Manipur asked to respond on failure to conduct urban local bodies election
The tenure of the 26 Urban Local Bodies expired in the year 2021 after completion of five years, a PIL stated.
Updated 14 Apr 2022, 5:12 pm
A division bench comprising Chief Justice Sanjay Kumar and Justice Ahanthem Bimol of the High Court of Manipur on Wednesday notified the state of Manipur to issue a reply for not conducting election of urban local bodies and for engaging 26 ‘caretaker chairpersons’ at municipal councils of 26 urban local bodies.
The same was also notified to director of MAHUD, state election commission, caretaker chairpersons of Jiribam, Andro-Lamlai, Mayang Imphal, Lilong, Samurou, Wangoi, Thongkhong Laxmi, Sekmai, Lamsang, Thoubal, Heirok, Wangjing, Yairipok, Kakching, Nambol, Sugnu and Sikhong Municipal Councils. The notice is returnable on May 16.
The HC issued the notice, following a public interest litigation filed by advocate Sanoujam Shyamcharan Singh on April 11 with a prayer to direct authorities to conduct election of 26 urban local bodies. The petitioner further pleaded for quashing the appointment of the caretaker chairpersons.
The PIL stated that in the month of January 2016, State Election Commission conducted election to the 26 Urban Local Bodies of Imphal West, Imphal East, Jiribam, Thoubal, Kakching and Bishnupur districts of Manipur.
The tenure of the Urban Local Bodies is five years and therefore, the tenure of the 26 Urban Local Bodies expired in the year 2021 after completion of 5 years, it stated.
It further stated that the Imphal Municipal Corporation (IMC) is the only Municipal Corporation in Manipur and its last election was held in the year 2016. Therefore, its five-year term expired with effect from June 15, 2021.
“Actually, the election to the Urban Local Bodies is to be held prior to the expiry of its 5 years term. However, due to the Pandemic, its election could not be held in time,” it mentioned.
The government of Manipur has appointed caretaker chairperson to run the said Urban Local Bodies, it stated. The Election Commission of India held the 12th Manipur State Assembly Election in two phases on February 28, 2022 and March 5, 2022, it stated.
During that time several restrictions under the Disaster Management Act, 2005 were in place.
With the overall improvement in the COVID-19 situation in the country, the government of India lifted almost all restrictions imposed under the Disaster Management Act, 2005 with effect from April 1, 2022.
“However, the authorities concerned has not initiated any positive action to conduct the election to the 26 Urban Local Bodies till date, which ultimately debarred the common people from enjoying the benefit of having duly constituted Urban Local Bodies,” the PIL stated.
It also stated that the provisions of the Manipur Municipality Act, 1994 and part IXA of the Constitution of India do not empower the government of Manipur to appoint someone to be ‘caretaker chairperson’ of the Urban Local Body. Therefore, the order of March 14 2022 (and April 8, 2022 are illegal and untenable in the eyes of law, it added.
However, the government of Manipur preferred to continue its existing arrangement of engaging caretaker chairpersons and administrators for managing the Urban Local Bodies, which is quite contrary to the legislative intent of the Part IXA of the Constitution of India and the Manipur Municipalities Act, 1994, which completely deteriorated the democratic fabric of the municipal bodies, according to the PIL.
First published:13 Apr 2022, 3:16 pm