The Gujarat High Court on Friday, issued notices to the Gujarat Government and the State Election Commission while acting on a petition that has challenged the constitutional validity of an ordinance, promulgated by the government empowering the commission to delay Panchayat elections in the state by three months.
Before issuing notices, the court had primarily observed that ‘the State legislature could not dilute Constitution because Constitution was supreme.’ The court has posted the petition for further hearing on October 14.
The petition has been moved by two persons, Virendrasinh Vaghela and Jagdish Bhatt, through their lawyer Shaktisinh Gohil who is also a senior Congress leader in Gujarat. While, Vaghela is the Vice-President of Gandhinagar District Panchayat and Bhatt is from Bhavnagar district.
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In their petition, the petitioners have stated that Gujarat Government has promulgated two ordinances and one of them has empowered the State Election Commission to delay the Panchayat elections beyond its constitutionally mandatory of five year term.
They have stated that under the 73rd Constitutional amemdnent, the Panchayats were given constitutional status. And it was mandated under the provisions of Article E of the Constitution that election to constitute a panchayat shall be completed before the expiry of its duration and in case a panchayat is dissolved, the election shall be completed before the expiration of the period of six months.
In accordance with the Constitutional amendment, the Gujarat Panchayats Act was also amended at the relevant time and it was mentioned that a panchayat shall continue for five years and ‘no longer’, they added.
The petitioners have further stated in the petition that, “…the Government intends to take over the administration of the panchayat through an administrator appointed on account of non-holding of election by the Election Commission.”
The petitioners have demanded HC to declare the ordinance as unconstitutional and to direct State Election Commission to declare the date of holding the election of the panchayats.
The petition was heard by the division bench of HC comprising of Acting Chief Justice (ACJ) Jayant Patel and Justice N V Anjaria. Gohil had argued the petition for some time following which, the court asked Advocate General Kamal Trivedi appearing for the Gujarat Government about the provision and then observed that the words ‘no longer’ were added in the Gujarat Panchayats Act in accordance with the Constitution. During the course of discussion, ACJ Patel observed, “State Legislature cannot dilute Constitution. Because, the Constitution is supreme.”