HC picks flaws in Goa municipal polls procedure

In a set back to the Goa government, the Bombay High Court bench in Goa on Monday scrapped municipal elections in five municipal council, citing faulty reservation procedures, even as the Court allowed polls to be conducted as per schedule in the remaining six municipal councils and one municipal corporation.

The Opposition, which has accused Chief Minister Pramod Sawant-led coalition government of allegedly manipulating the process of delimitation of municipal wards and their reservation for women, other backward castes, SC and ST candidates, has said that the High Court order was a vindication of their accusations.

The High Court was hearing several petitions filed by officials of political parties challenging the reservation procedures adopted by the Goa government.

In an order on Monday, the High Court directed the state government’s Directorate of Municipal Administration to set aside its earlier notification related to the reservation of wards in the municipal councils of Margao, Mapusa, Mormugao, Sanguem and Quepem and issue a fresh one instead by following available norms within 10 days. The order also directs the Goa government to complete the polls in the five assembly constituencies by April 15.

Last month, the State Election Commission had announced elections to 11 municipal councils and one municipal corporation to be held on March 20.

“We had challenged the reservation in two municipalities in Sanguem and Margao. In both cases, the court has held that the reservation was illegal. It is violation of rules and municipality act and in violation of constitutional principles,” former advocate general Dattaprasad Lawande told reporters.

“The HC has directed that as far as these two municipalities are concerned, and other three municipalities in which other parties had filed petitions, that the reservation has been quashed and set aside. The state government is directed to carry out the exercise of reservation within 10 days and complete the process within a timebound manner,” Lawande also said.

Reacting to the order Leader of Opposition Digambar Kamat tweeted: “With Hon’ble High court striking down DMA Notification dated 4th February 2021 on Municipal Ward Reservations, It is Beginning of End of @BJP4Goa Governments Jumla Raj with Manipulations in Electoral Polls. Let us all rise to Save Democracy. @INCGoa”.