After 2 phases of polls, Municipal Act’s vital provision receives Govt’s attention

DCs authorized to deal with complaints about disqualification

Step initiated on interference of Chief Electoral Officer

Mohinder Verma
JAMMU, Oct 12: After two phases of Urban Local Bodies elections, the Government has woken up from the deep slumber to pay attention towards key provision of Jammu and Kashmir Municipal Act, 2000 relating to disqualification of the contesting candidates. Now, the complaints whose fate was hanging in balance ever since the filing of nomination papers by the contestants would be decided by the concerned Deputy Commissioners.
The EXCELSIOR in its edition dated September 29, 2018 had exclusively highlighted that no attention was being paid towards the disqualification provision of Jammu and Kashmir Municipal Act, 2000.
It was specifically pointed out that some complaints relating to contesting of elections by the land encroachers were brought to the notice of concerned authorities but instead of looking into the same with required seriousness the officers rejected the complaints on frivolous ground that too without enjoying such powers.
The Act states that if the question of disqualification arises during the process of an election, the same shall be decided by an officer, who may be authorized in this behalf by the Government in consultation with the Chief Electoral Officer.
However, no officer was authorized by the Government in compliance to this provision of the Municipal Act as a result of which there was no proper disposal of complaints relating to disqualification of the contesting candidates, official sources told EXCELSIOR.
Taking note of this, the Chief Electoral Officer J&K vide Communication No. 5402/ CEO/ LS/ MISC/ 2018/ 60 dated October 11, 2018 asked the Housing and Urban Development Department to pay serious attention towards the disqualification provision of the Act.
Acting swiftly, Financial Commissioner Housing and Urban Development Department K B Agarwal issued Government Order No.297-HUD dated October 11, 2018 for compliance to the disqualification provision of the J&K Municipal Act, 2000.
“In pursuance to Section 16(2)(i) of the J&K Municipal Act, all the Deputy Commissioners of the concerned districts are authorized within their respective jurisdictions to decide question of disqualification of a person for being chosen as and for being an office bearer of a Municipality”, read the order.
If the question of disqualification arises after the election process is over, the same shall be decided by the Director Urban Local Bodies after giving an opportunity to the person concerned of being heard.
As per Section 16(1) of the Act, a person shall be disqualified for being chosen as and for being an office bearer of a Municipality if he/she has been convicted of any offence involving moral turpitude unless a period of six years has elapsed since his/her conviction; if he/she had encroached upon, is a beneficiary of the encroachment upon any land belonging to, or taken on lease or requisitioned by or on behalf of the Government, a Municipality, a Panchayat or a Cooperative Society unless a period of six years has elapsed since the date on which he or she is ejected there from or he/she ceased to be the encroacher.
Moreover, a person is required to be disqualified if he/she has been convicted of an election offense under any law; if he/she has been ordered to give security for good behavior under relevant section of the J&K State Ranbir Penal Code; if he/she has been disqualified for appointment in public service except on medical grounds and if he/she is in the employment or service of State Government, Central Government or any Public Sector Undertaking under the control of the Central or the State Government.
As per the Act, a person is also required to be disqualified if he/she is registered as a habitual offender under law; if he/she has directly or indirectly any share or interest in any work done by an order of a Municipality; if he/she has not paid the arrears of any tax imposed by a Municipality and if he/she has been convicted of an offence punishable under the Protection of Civil Rights Act, 1955 unless a period of six years has elapsed since his/her conviction.