HC reserves judgment on Mayoral election

Excelsior Correspondent
Srinagar, Nov 23: The High Court today reserved its orders on challenge of notification for conduct of elections to the post of Mayor in Srinagar Municipal Corporation which is scheduled to be held on Wednesday.
Justice Puneet Gupta after hearing the aggrieved persons through their counsel and advocate Momin Khan appearing counsel for SMC reserved its orders to the petition challenging the forthcoming elections to the post of Mayor SMC.
Two persons Nuzhat Ara and Ali Mohammad Tantray contesting members of National Conference for the upcoming elections for the vacant posts of Councillors in SMC have challenged the elections of SMC Mayor.
They sought that the notification issued by the Secretary SMC for conducting elections to the post be quashed as the same is non-est in the eyes of law as the Secretary has no competence or authority to issue such kind of notification which they said is against the Model Code of Conduct.
They informed the Court that the election to the post is an indirect election under the charter of the Municipal Act 2000, and the rules as framed thereunder and entails the meeting of the elected councilors to vote for the candidates who are running for the post of Mayor.
It was also argued by their counsel that while the by-elections are about to commence and the Model Code of Conduct is in force, no meeting of the Urban Local Body or Municipality can be held except if the meeting pertains to some immediate disaster or pressing relief work.
Opposing the submissions of petitioners, SMC Counsel Momin Khan informed the court that the petitioners have no right to challenge the election because they are not Councilors of SMC. They have only submitted the nomination papers for the post of Councilors as such they have no locus to challenge the notification.
With regard to Model Code of Conduct which is in force from 4.11.20, advocate Momin apprised the court that there is no reference about prohibition on the election to the post of Mayor.
With regard to issuance of notification issued by the Secretary of SMC, advocate Khan informed the court that it is competent authority which has given powers to Secretary about issuance of notification of Mayor’s elections and the contentions raised by the petitioner counsel in this regard is not a valid argument.
Petitioner counsel on the other hand for pressing to stay the conduct of election submitted that it will not only entail the meeting of Councilors and the Corporation but the outcome of the election, if not deferred, would unfairly prejudice the contesting candidates and the candidates seen in close proximity to the winning Mayoral candidate would get an unfair advantage thereby altering the level playing field as available to the contesting candidates.
He added that the higher authorities of SMC be commanded to refrain and forbear from acting in pursuance and in furtherance thereof in violation of Model Code of Conduct and the notification be declared as invalid and bad in law.