The Punjab and Haryana high court on Thursday restrained the Punjab government from issuing a notification for the forthcoming panchayat polls' schedule till May 29.
The division bench comprising acting chief justice Jasbir Singh and justice Rakesh Kumar Jain issued the directions during resumed hearing of a public interest litigation filed by the Punjab Pradesh Congress Committee (PPCC), challenging the process of delimitation of wards (wardbandi).
When the case came up for hearing, Punjab's advocate general Ashok Aggarwal was not available for arguments because of some other important matter going on in another court. When his assistant advocate requested the court to pass over the case, the court said the matter could be heard on May 29.
However, senior advocate Anupam Gupta, appearing for the PPCC, requested the court to at least hold back the state government from issuing the notification for the panchayat polls in the meanwhile. Accepting his request, the bench directed the Punjab's counsel, "Don't issue any notification till May 29".
The court also allowed the rejoinder filed by PPCC president Partap Singh Bajwa to the affidavit filed by S Karuna Raju, director, rural development and panchayats, on May 7. In his rejoinder, Bajwa had countered the Punjab government's stand that houses in villages were not numbered.
Citing examples of delimitation (wardbandi) of six blocks of Fatehgarh Sahib district where house numbers have been mentioned, Bajwa has said that it falsifies the state's stand and nails its lie that houses in a gram sabha are not allotted any particular number. Bajwa has given examples of the wardbandi notification issued by the Fatehgarh Sahib deputy commissioner on January 31 for the blocks of Khera, Bassi Pathana, Sirhind, Amloh and Khamano. He has informed the court that the wardbandi notifications for no other district in the state mention house numbers.
The petitioner has alleged that the wardbandi lists issued by the state government did not reveal anything regarding the composition of wards, i.e. house numbers, site plans, adjoining groups of houses, contiguity pattern, etc. which could enable a voter/citizen to file objections or suggestions.