The Punjab and Haryana high court on Wednesday dismissed the public interest litigation (PIL) challenging the decision of the Punjab government to allegedly nominate members of delimitation boards for the purpose of delimitation of wards of municipalities across the state from among workers and leaders of the Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) and the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP).
Dismissing the petition filed in the form of a PIL, the division bench comprising acting chief justice Ashutosh Mohunta and justice Harinder Singh Sidhu said, “The petitioner has challenged the vires of the Delimitation of Wards of Municipalities Rules (First Amendment) Rules, 2014. The vires of a legislation cannot be challenged by way of a public interest litigation and more so in vacuum. For this reason, we are not inclined to entertain this petition.”
The petition was filed by Rajeshwar Singh, claiming to be media in-charge and spokesperson of the District Congress Committee, Rupnagar. The petitioner had alleged that the ruling SAD-BJP combine, with an arbitrary intention, had issued the notifications on August 13 and 14 and no member/worker or leader of the Congress, the main opposition party in the state, or of any other party had been nominated on the said boards.
As per law, the delimitation boards are supposed to be independent and impartial institutions, and members of municipalities representing various political parties are only ‘associate members’ without any voting right or authority to sign any decision of the board, the court was informed.
The petition read, “The mala fide action of the ruling SAD-BJP alliance is writ large as the rules have been twisted, tweaked and tailor-made, especially to accommodate both the SAD and BJP workers/members and leaders in the delimitation boards by issuing notification for the amendment of the Delimitation of Wards of Municipalities Rules, 1972, on August 13, a day prior to the issuance of a fresh notification for the nomination of members to the said boards by superseding the earlier notifications of June 26 and July 1.”
The petition had sought directions to quash the notification dated August 14 issued by Punjab’s department of local government (Municipal Elections Office), nominating the members of the delimitation boards.