A councillor cannot express helplessness in assisting the people who have elected him and then file a public interest litigation (PIL) seeking performance of municipal functions.
These remarks came from the Punjab and Haryana high court while hearing a PIL filed by Nakodar councillor Aditya Bhatara raising the issue of non-completion of the sewerage work at Nakodar town in Jalandhar district.
Surprisingly, Bhatara owes allegiance to the SAD-BJP, the ruling party in the state.
The division bench comprising chief justice Sanjay Kishan Kaul and justice Augustine George Masih said, “The most surprising part is that the petitioner is a councillor and what he seeks implementation of falls within the domain of activity of a councillor.”
Not inclined to entertain the “petition styled as public interest litigation”, the court further added that a democratic system envisages representation at different levels and the basic levels are the panchayat and councillor levels. The councillor should not shift his responsibility to the state government, the court observed.
Bhatara had informed the court that the Punjab water supply and sewerage board started the sewerage project worth Rs 15 crore in 2006. But it came to a halt in 2007 as the SAD-BJP government stopped the release of funds. The project was sanctioned during the Congress government in March 2006 when then chief minister Capt Amarinder Singh had laid down the foundation stone.
As per the project specifications, the main sewerage lines of 9.8 km and branch lines of 51.44 km were to be laid. Whereas, till date only 2.28 km main line and 6 km branch lines have been laid. It was informed that due to political rivalry between the Congress and the ruling alliance, people of the town were suffering.
The petitioner had also informed that representations in this regard were also made to the principal secretary of the local self-government department and the chief secretary, but to no avail. The court dismissed the petition.