Shimla (Aug 19): Himachal Pradesh High Court has directed the state government to conduct election to eight vacant seats in Kaza panchayat Samiti within 60 days.
These newly elected members will be administered oath of office within 7 days thereafter and then the election to the post of chairman and vice-chairman will be held henceforth. The directions of the division bench comprising Chief Justice Kurian Joseph and Justice VK Sharma came on the petition of seven members of the Kaza panchayat samiti.
Election to the 15 wards of Kaza panchayat samiti were held on Janaury 4, 2011, but only 7 of the newly elected members took oath on Janury 10, 2011, the date fixed for oath by the authorized officer. On Jan, 12, 2011 the authorized officer fixed Jan 20, 2011 as the date for administering oath to the remaining members and for election to the post of Chairman and Vice Chairman.
Except for the 7 members who had already taken oath, nobody else turned up and hence the meeting was adjourned to January. 28, 2011, February 4, 2011 and thereafter to February 14, 2011. These remaining 8 elected members cited bad weather condition,
blockade of road, disruption of communication system and personal difficulties for their inability to take oath on stipulated dates. On February 14, 2011, the authorized officer administered the oath to six more members.
The Court observed that as per constitutional mandate, a democratic institution is to be made functional within a prescribed period as according to Section 127(2) of the Constitution of India the election of a member who has not entered office within the prescribed period shall be deemed to be invalid and in consequence thereof, a fresh election should take place. Since the 8 elected members did not take oath within 7 days as prescribed, fresh elections will be held.
The court also dismissed the contention of the petitioners that the quorum should be understood as the quorum of these elected and having taken oath or affirmation. The court observed that such scheme shall frustrate the democratic working of the institutions. Only in a situation where two-third of the elected members are available for a meeting and still not present in the meeting, there arises the question of second meeting with simple majority.
The Court also observed that if an institution is to be truly democratic, it shall be of all the people and by all the people. “It shall not be of few people governing all people and this is precisely the principle behind insisting for quorum out of the total elected membership, for electing the chairman and vice-chairman. “Since the membership in Kaza panchayat samiti having right to vote is 15, therefore the quorum is ten. Until and unless, such quorum is constituted, there can not be an election of chairman and vice-chairman,” the court said.