In HC,Congress slams govt for ‘sacrificing substance to tokenism’

The Congress reply,running into over 500 pages,was filed by party chief Partap Singh Bajwa.

Written by Express News Service | Chandigarh | Updated: April 15, 2014 5:28:09 pm

The state Congress on Wednesday told the Punjab and Haryana High Court that the process of delimitation of wards followed by Punjab government for the forthcoming panchayat elections in the state amounted to “reduction of natural justice to an absolutely summary,mechanical and standardised ritual,sacrificing substance to tokenism”.

The Congress had petitioned the high court challenging the delimitation of wards by the government. The government,however,had denied the allegations and demanded dismissal of the PIL.

The Congress reply,running into over 500 pages,was filed by party chief Partap Singh Bajwa. Appearing on the party’s behalf,senior lawyer Anupam Gupta filed an affidavit challenging the state’s “all is well” response.

The affidavit termed Punjab government’s response as “bland,superficial and cursory”. Not only the general public,voters but also the media,the Congress alleged,was “kept absolutely in the dark”. It went on to request the court to direct the ruling party to produce records to show to whether anything about the process of wardbandi was ever published in any newspaper.

The Congress has also alleged that the rejection of objections to formulation of wards by deputy commissioners were “mechanical,stereotypical and standardised”. It added that the “process of inviting objections” was an “illusory and futile exercise — a mere ritual nothing short of a mockery”. It also alleged that the formulation of wards was “totally vague,evasive,misleading and revealing absolutely nothing to the voters”. The PIL will now come up for arguments on May 8.

The court,on the last date of hearing,had questioned the state Congress to show whether it was a registered body. In reply,the Congress on Wednesday attached resolutions,letters by topmost leaders approving the constitution of Punjab Pradesh Congress Committee (PPCC). It told the court that PPCC was the face of Indian National Congress (INC) in Punjab. PPCC,it added,is the integral constituent of the INC. Speaking on the issue of locus standi,Congress submitted: “Politicial parties have a special place in election law,recognised and reaffirmed by statutory provisions.”

It also placed on record the constitution of INC and its rules,the constitution of PPCC and all communications exchanged between seniormost party leaders,including national president Sonia Gandhi.

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