SC stays High Court order to hold Bengaluru civic body polls


State had opposed move to conduct elections in only 198 of the 243 BBMP wards.

The Supreme Court on Friday stayed a Karnataka High Court judgment of December 4, which directed the State Election Commission to conduct elections in only 198 wards of the Bruhat Bengaluru Mahanagara Palike (BBMP) within six weeks.

A Bench led by Chief Justice of India Sharad A. Bobde issued notice to the Election Commission and original petitioners in the High Court — M. Shivaraju and Abdul Wajid — on the appeal filed by the Karnataka government.

The government said the High Court judgment nullified the unanimous will of the State Legislature, who are the representatives of the people, which amended the Karnataka Municipal Corporations Act of 1976 to increase the number of wards in Bengaluru to 243. The 1976 Act governs the BBMP.

The High Court, on December 4, ordered the BBMP elections to be held for 198 wards as per the delimitation of wards published on June 23.

The State government, represented by advocate Subhranshu Padhi, said the High Court had severely handicapped efforts to “improve urban governance in one of the largest and most cosmopolitan cities in India”.

“The increase in the number of wards was necessitated by fact that the population and demographics of the city have undergone a vast change since 2009 (when the number of wards were increased to 198) thereby necessitating an increase in the number of wards and their redrawing into smaller and more administrable sizes,” the State argued.

The petition said the HC erroneously read down the provisions to “mean that the amended provisions would not apply to elections of those corporations where elections became due prior to coming into force of the amended provisions”.

The State government contended that the HC directed the State to conduct elections in a manner which was contrary to “a validly and unanimously enacted piece of legislation by the Legislature”. It said Article 243-ZA(2) of the Constitution has conferred the power on the State Legislature to, by law, make provision with respect to “all matters relating to or in connection with elections to municipalities”.

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Sagar Biswas

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