Madras High Court on Wednesday issued notice to the Tamil Nadu Government on a PIL challenging a recent amendment to an act providing for indirect election of Mayors of city corporations and heads of other local bodies.
First bench comprising Chief Justice Sanjay Kishan Kaul and Justice R Mahadevan ordered issue of notice to the Secretary of Municipal Administration and Water Supply (Elections) department and other authorities and posted the PIL to October 25 next for further hearing.
Petitioner Sundar Rajan, a voter of Guindy locality in the city, challenged the Tamil Nadu Municipal Corporation Laws (Amendment) Act (Act 8 of 2016), which provided for election of Mayors, chairpersons and presidents of local bodies by the councillors and not by people as was the practice so far. A bill amending the act was passed by the assembly in June last.
Praying the court to declare the Act 8 of 2016 as ultra virus of the Constitution, he also sought a direction to forbear the authorities from taking steps to conduct elections to the local bodies, which are due soon.
Petitioner submitted that there was inconsistency in the provisions of the amended act and TN Act 15 of 2011. Also, the amended act would defeat the intention of Article 243-R of Constitution providing for direct election to the posts.
It per se appeared to be unconstitutional and colourable exercise of power and had a hidden agenda of disturbing the secure tenure concept to the posts, the petitioner charged.
He also said a councillor takes care of his/her respective wards only while the head of the institution was expected to take care of the entire local body. He cannot be expected to devote his entire time and attention to his ward after election as Mayor, the petitioner argued.
Stating that the constitutional provision dealing with the election of Mayors was not similar to the Chief Minister and Ministers who serve simultaneously as MLAs, he said it was consciously decided to make the elections to the office of Mayor and Chairperson direct and not indirect.
Therefore the Mayor being the face of the institution and on whom the Constitution casts certain duties, his election or continuance can be left to a handful of councillors who could decide the fate at their whims and fancies or due to extraneous reasons, he said.