Hearing an interlocutory application (IA) moved by the Gujarat government, a three-judge bench of the Supreme Court Wednesday directed the chief executive officers of the local bodies — panchayats, municipalities and municipal corporations where the five-year tenure of the political executive is slated to end in December — to operate the agencies till fresh elections are held but without taking any policy decisions.
The bench did not agree to a request by the state’s counsel to substitute CEOs of the local bodies with other nominated officers to carry out their routine functions till the time new bodies were in place.
The court was hearing an application which urged it to “hold and declare that, on conclusion of the term of local bodies, in the event elections cannot be held on account of circumstances beyond control of the State Election Commission, the state government in consonance with the provisions of the Constitution of India would be empowered to appoint administrators to the local bodies till elections are held by the…commission.”
The State Election Commission (SEC) had deferred the elections to six municipal corporations, 55 municipalities, 31 district panchayats, and 231 taluka panchayats, which were due to be completed this month, by three months due to the pandemic.
The SEC’s counsel told the bench of Justices Ashok Bhushan, R Subhash Reddy and M R Shah that local body elections in the state will be completed by February 2021. The bench said that steps must be taken for constituting the fresh elected bodies within the time stated.
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