The state legislative council Friday passed a bill to create the Karnataka Panchayat Raj Delimitation Commission to carry out delimitation and reservation exercises for constituencies in local bodies instead of the State Election Commission.
The bill was passed in the legislative council amid a walkout by the Opposition Congress and JDS, who accused the ruling BJP of attempting to postpone the impending local polls by passing the law for the creation of a commission to carry out delimitation of rural constituencies.
The bill, titled Karnataka Gram Swaraj and Panchayat Raj (Amendment) Bill 2021, was earlier passed in the state assembly Thursday amid an Opposition walkout.
The bill introduced by Rural Development and Panchayat Raj Minister K S Eshwarappa says it is necessary for the delimitation exercise of constituencies to be carried out by experts constituted under a special commission rather than the Karnataka State Election Commission.
The bill cites a Supreme Court order of December 2019 in a case filed by the DMK against the Governor’s secretariat in Tamil Nadu and says that the SC “held that while making delimitation the object of maintaining the ratio between the population and territory cannot be effectively achieved without any research or proposal by the delimitation commission”.
The bill also says that many petitions in the Karnataka HC have challenged delimitation and reservation notifications for local body constituencies made by the state election commission.
Congress leaders in the state assembly and council, including former CM Siddaramaiah and H K Patil, said that the state government is trying to scuttle polls for taluk and zilla panchayats — due this year — through the passage of the delimitation commission bill.
Law minister J C Madhuswamy, however, argued that no state election commission in the country has the powers to redraw constituencies and prescribe reservations in the constituencies. As many as 31 zilla panchayats and 232 taluk panchayats, comprising 30,000 villages, are due for the polls since June.
A matter on the conduct of the local polls is due to be heard in the Karnataka high court next week.