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Punjab and Haryana HC rebukes Chandigarh administration for delaying Mayoral election, asks for fresh date

PUNJAB NEWS EXPRESS | January 20, 2024 07:36 PM

CHANDIGARH: Punjab and Haryana High Court today expresed anguish over an inordinate delay in election of new Mayor of Municipal Corporation and issued notice to Chandigarh administration for giving fresh date of holding election on next date of hearing on January 23.

The High Court has rejected the dealy of 18 days in holding the election and wanted to know why election could not be held between Jan 23 and 26. The AAP had challenged the order of Deputy Commissioner of Chandigarh who has fixed election date on February 6, 2024. High court was not ready to accept the argument of Chandigarh administration that election was postponed due to law and order problem. Was Chandigarh DGP not capable of handling law and order, the court asked?

The Chandigarh administration took the plea that police would be busy due to Ayodhya event on January 22 and Republic Day on January 26. Administration also maintained that on January 18 large number of Punjab police personnel reached the venue of election and a clash was averted with Chandigarh Police.

The matter came up for hearing before the division Bench of Justice Sudhir Singh and Justice Harsh Bunger, which issued notice to Chandigarh Administration and MC Chandigarh for January 23.

Emphasising the urgency of the situation, the Punjab and Haryana High Court asserted that the Chandigarh mayoral elections must be conducted before January 26 to avoid potential intervention by the HC.

The election to elect Mayor of Chandigarh was orginally scheduled to be held on January 18. The Chandigarh administration first postponed the election on the plea that presiding officer has fallen sick. Later the Deputy Commissioner issued order to hold election on February 6. The AAP councillors had approached High Court on January 18 too and January 23 was fixed next date of hearing.

The petition was filed by Kuldeep Kumar AAP councillor and mayoral candidate of alliance. Counsels representing Kumar, including Senior Advocates Gurminder Singh, Ferry Sofat, and Ramanpreet Singh Bara, sought the quashing of the order dated January 18, 2024, postponing the elections to February 6.

The Chandigarh administration is understood to have been delaying the election under pressure from BJP. Chandigarh being an Union Territory, the local administration and police is controlled by Union Home Minister Amit Shah. The BJP is expected to lose the control over MC after an alliance between AAP and Congress. BJP has 14 councillors, AAP has 13 and Congress 7. SAD has one coucillor. After an alliance betwen AAP and Congressm the BJP has lost the majority and AAP is set to win the election. Congress is hoping to win posts of Senior Deputy Mayor and Deputy Mayor.

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