In a big jolt to the Punjab government, the Punjab and Haryana high court on Tuesday upheld the single judge order against reservation to women candidates for the post of mayor in SAS Nagar municipal corporation and directed the state government to hold the election within 15 days.
The decision came from the division bench of justices Hemant Gupta and Lisa Gill on the bunch of appeals filed by the state government and also by some of the councillors. Though detailed order is awaited, the high court in the open court, while dismissing the state government appeal, ruled that the seat could not have been reserved for women as per the roster prepared by the government.
The government had challenged the single judge order whereby, through a notification of March 5, 2015, it had reserved the office of SAS Nagar mayor for women. Elections to the 6 municipal corporations, including SAS Nagar, were held on February 22, and results declared on February 26.
Kuljeet Singh Bedi, an elected councilor, had approached the division bench in May as the government failed to conduct the mayoral election despite the court setting aside the reservation roster in April and had sought court’s intervention.
The government on the other hand also filed an appeal before the division bench arguing that reservation was as per the law and the roster was finalised as per the notification of 2012, in accordance with the amended rules for these elections.
It had also argued that the high court order would lead to undoing the electoral process in five other MCs of the state, particularly Hoshiarpur and Moga, the judge in his order had held that reservation for SC and woman candidates should have gone to Hoshiaprur and Moga, respectively. However, it is immediately not clear as to what effect the Tuesday’s judgment will have on the mayoral elections of other municipalities.
The singe judge bench in its order had observed that the adoption of such a criteria after the declaration of the result of the elected councilors was not proper and had termed it “abuse of discretion” by adopting pick and choose method suiting the ruling party.