Delhi Mayor Oberoi opposes petitions in HC against re-poll for MCD Standing Committee members
Delhi Mayor Shelly Oberoi on Thursday objected to Bharatiya Janata Party Councillors’ challenge in the High Court to the re-election of six members of Municipal Corporation of Delhi’s (MCD) Standing Committee, saying the decision was taken in the interest of free and fair polls.
New Delhi: Delhi Mayor Shelly Oberoi on Thursday objected to Bharatiya Janata Party Councillors’ challenge in the High Court to the re-election of six members of Municipal Corporation of Delhi’s (MCD) Standing Committee, saying the decision was taken in the interest of free and fair polls.
Senior lawyer Rahul Mehra, representing Oberoi, said that she had ordered fresh “re-polls” rather than “re-election” due to the commotion in the House and that the court should not take the present petitions into consideration while the election process is still in progress.
“Returning officer (the Mayor) said everything stands compromised. There is complete commotion. Election must be free and fair and they must also be seen to be free and fair and hence I (Mayor) am directing a re-poll.”
On February 24, the Mayor had announced re-elections for the Standing Committee on February 27 due to the chaos that rocked the MCD House during polling for the body earlier.
In a special hearing on February 25, the Delhi High Court had put a stay on a notice issued by Oberoi.
Two petitions were moved by BJP leaders Kamaljeet Sehrawat and Shikha Roy challenging the notice issued by the Mayor on February 24.
Appearing for one of the petitioners, senior advocate Jayant Mehta said that once the election is completed, the RO has no discretion but to declare the results and cannot sit over it if the result is not to her liking and has no power to order re-election.
But Mehra said that election refers to the whole procedure, which embraces various steps including filing of nomination papers, polling and declaration of results, and when the election process is ongoing, there is a bar on entertaining petitions in its regard.
He stated that the court cases were delaying the election process of the six members of the MCD Standing Committee and that this should be allowed to happen as soon as possible.
He told the bench of Justice Purushaindra Kumar Kaurav that: “Mayor is saying re-polling and doesn’t say de-novo election from nomination. This (election process) must be allowed to proceed further.”
Earlier, a ruckus was raised after the Mayor had declared one vote invalid in the election to pick six members of the Standing Committee.
While staying the notice issued by Oberoi, the court had said that no purpose will be served by conducting a fresh elections on February 27.
Justice Gaurang Kanth had said that prima facie, the notice is in violation of Regulation 51 of New Delhi Municipal Council (Procedure and Conduct of Business) Regulations, 1997, as the returning officer or Mayor is conducting re-elections without declaring the results of the elections conducted on February 24.
The court had also issued directions to preserve the ballot box.
It had observed that from a perusal of Regulation 51, it is nowhere reflected that the returning officer or Mayor has the authority to declare an election of Standing Committee as null and void.
“It is not out of place to mention that admittedly, the counting of votes and further duty casted upon the Mayor as in declaring the results of the elections held on February 24 shall culminate into final results,” the court had said.
“In view thereof, the notice dated February 24, 2023, for re-election shall remain stayed till the next date of hearing,” the court had said.
Counsel appearing for the petitioners had submitted that the Mayor conducted the elections for six members of the Standing Committee on February 24 and however, without declaring results, a notice was issued on the same day for re-elections.
On February 24, BJP councillor Sharad Kapoor had moved the Delhi High Court, alleging that Oberoi did not stick to the rules of not using mobile phones and pens during voting to elect the MCD Standing Committee members, and sought the February 22 polls be declared null and void.
Oberoi stalled the recounting of votes for electing the members of the all-powerful MCD Standing Committee following objections raised by the AAP.
It was free for all in the MCD House with BJP and AAP councillors trading blows at each other, showing scant disregard for the sanctity of the House.
Protesting against the Mayor’s decision to stall the recounting process, BJP councillors started breaking mikes, tearing ballot papers and even damaged the polling booths amid sloganeering.