A two Judge bench of the Telangana High Court comprising Chief Justice Raghavendra Singh Chauhan and Justice A Abhishek Reddy on Tuesday dismissed a public interest litigation filed by Congress leader Utham Kumar Reddy questioning the procedure adopted by the State Election Commission (SEC) to various municipalities in the state. The bench heard for over 8 hours and beyond the scheduled court time till 6.45 pm the arguments of senior advocate D Prakash Reddy for petitioner, C V Mohan Reddy for the SEC and the Additional Advocate General J Ramchander Rao for the Government.

The petitioner filed the PIL questioning the State Municipal Election notification. The SEC announced the schedule and said that the notification would be issued on January 7 and the polls would be held on January 22 and the counting would take place on January 25. He contended that the notification was issued without finalisation and publication of voters list and reservations for SC, ST, BC and women in respect of wards in 120 municipalities and 10 municipal corporations.
The bench questioned the petitioner if there was any sequence of steps to be taken under the Statute. It also enquired whether there was any requirement with regard to reservation of wards. Senior counsel Prakash Reddy representing the petitioner said there was no statutory requirement. He contended that the notification issued by SEC failed to meet the requirement under Section 195 of the Telangana State Municipalities Act, 2019.

Speaking for the bench, the Chief Justice said that the court’s understanding was that “for a democracy to run, election process cannot be interfered with, the grievances can be challenged in an election petition. If the courts interfere, election cannot be conducted, someone will have objections at any given point of time”. Prakash Reddy said according to the Act, finalisation of voters list cannot be done after the issuance of notification. He complained about unreasonable time of two days given for raising objections on ward-wise voter list.

He pointed out that the electoral roll was prepared by election commission and reservation of wards was made by State based on electoral roll prepared and that both cannot be done simultaneously. The bench commented that the preparation for election by petitioner’s Congress party or other party was not overnight.

The bench dismissed the PIL stating it did not find any merit in the case. In a separate but parallel development, the bench admitted a writ plea filed by Bandari Komaresh of Ward 9, Badangpet, Ranga Reddy district, questioning the reservation of wards to women by way of drawing lots. 

The petitioner’s counsel Rachana Reddy argued that draw of lots was unconstitutional and that GHMC rules were applied to other municipalities. The bench granted four weeks’ time to the government to respond.

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