Acting tough, the Himachal Pradesh High Court on Monday directed the State Election Commission to announce elections to the Shimla Municipal Corporation within 24 hours and ensure that the new house is in place by June 19.
“The (State) Election Commission shall forthwith, and no later than 24 hours of the receipt of this judgement, frame an electoral programme and take all consequential action so as to ensure that elections are held not later than June 18,” a Division Bench of Justices Tarlok Singh Chauhan and Chander Bhusan Barowalia said.
The court said the new body of duly elected councillors should be constituted latest by June 19 and elections held on the basis of final electoral rolls published on May 5.
The 25-member MC house currently has 10 members of the Congress, 12 of the BJP and three of the Communist Party of India-Marxist (CPI-M).
The bench said the elected/nominated members in the existing Municipal Corporation will not be permitted to be in office after June 4.
The court — which reserved the judgment on May 26 — said that the Himachal Pradesh State Election Commission’s (HPSEC) action in postponing the civic body elections cannot be countenanced or upheld since it is contrary to Article 243-U of the Constitution.
The HPSEC had postponed the polls this month following complaints of large-scale discrepancies in electoral rolls.
Petitioner Raju Thakur, while challenging the move, said it was undemocratic.
The Shimla MC elections were last held in May 2012 and the new body with a five-year term was constituted on June 4, 2012. The MC is the oldest in the country after those in Chennai and Kolkata.
A new elected body is thus required to be in place by June 4, the court observed in a 46-page judgment.
The High Court said it will be the state’s duty and responsibility to put in place a proper mechanism to ensure MC working does not suffer on account of implementation of the judgment.
As per the lasted HPSEC notification, a special revision of electoral rolls was to be carried out from June 15 to 23.
The opposition Bharatiya Janata Party had urged Governor Acharya Devvrat to ensure that the MC elections were held without delay.
Mayor Sanjay Chauhan and Deputy Mayor Tikender Panwar, both from the CPI-M, were elected in May 2012 to the top posts through first-ever direct elections in the corporation, which the Congress ruled for 26 years in a row.