The Delhi High Court Friday directed the State Election Commission (SEC) to hold bypolls for 13 municipal wards in the capital in three months. It said the “filling up casual vacancies of councillors of municipal wards cannot be postponed any longer”.
“Government of NCT of Delhi… shall make available the manpower sought by the SEC as well as the required funds within four weeks from today for conducting the elections…… SEC shall take the necessary steps and complete the bypolls in the three corporations,” said the bench of Chief Justice G Rohini and Justice Jayant Nath.
Law Student Sanjana Gahlot had filed a PIL before the court last year, claiming that the fundamental rights of persons residing in the 13 wards were being violated as they were forced to remain without an elected representative.
The judgment also noted that neither the commission nor the government had been able to provide any explanation for the delay.
The government had claimed the municipal elections were scheduled for 2017. It added that boundaries of various constituencies had to be redrawn (delimitation), which was last done in 2007.
The bench did not accept the argument. “Except for stating that the delimitation of wards is in progress, no justifiable reason could be shown by respondents 1 and 4 for their failure to conduct the bypolls.
“However, it is clear from the affidavit filed on behalf of the SEC that for conducting the elections, the assembly electoral rolls for the time being in force
have to be adopted,” observed the court.
The bench also noted that the casual vacancies had been there since 2013, which amounted to violation of Constitutional principles and rules regarding conduct of elections.