The Bombay High Court at Goa has concluded hearings in the petition challenging the decision of the Goa government to effectively postpone the Goa panchayat polls after it failed to issue the notification meaning the polls are yet to be held despite the term of the panchayats having expired on June 18 this year.
When the matter came up for hearing, State Advocate General Devidas Pangam told the court that the decision to delay the elections was taken on account of the fact that the monsoons are currently underway in the state making it nigh impossible to conduct the elections during this period and instead suggested that they would be held after September.
After hearing the stance of the State government the Bombay High Court at Goa reserved the matter for orders which are expected to be delivered this week itself.
Hearing a petition filed by Sandeep Vazarkar, a former sarpanch of Socorro village, the High Court had earlier pointed to the “constitutional mandate” as laid down by the Supreme Court which made it clear that all concerned are obliged to ensure that the newly elected body is installed in every local body before the expiry of 5 (five) years term of the outgoing elected body. The Court made it clear that this constitutional mandate is inviolable.
The State Election Commission had earlier told the Court that they were of the opinion that elections should have been held on time, but instead because the Goa government didn’t issue a notification
“Neither the State Election Commission nor the State Government or, for that matter, the State Legislature, including the Supreme Court, in the exercise of powers under Article 142 of the Constitution of India can countenance dispensation to the contrary,” the High Court observed.
“We are satisfied that the State Government cannot defeat the constitutional mandate by refusing to issue a Notification in terms of Rule 10 of the said Rules. Therefore, the Rules made under the Panchayat Raj Act must yield to the constitutional mandate,” the High Court said.
Vazarkar had filed a petition before the High Court to direct the state government to complete the process of elections to the Village Panchayat Socorro for the term 2022-2027, now that the term of the Panchayat has concluded. He also challenged the appointment of a Statistical Assistant in the office of the Director-General of Police as Administrator to govern the affairs of Socorro Panchayat.
In his petition, Vazarkar stressed on the Supreme Court judgement in which it is stated that it is not only a constitutional obligation of the State Election Commission but also of the State Government, including of the constitutional Courts, to ensure that the constitutional mandate of holding the timely election is not frustrated. On account of reference to the constitutional Courts, we were anxious to take up this matter at the earliest.
The term of 186 Panchayats in the State of Goa came to an end on 18/06/2022. Therefore, in terms of the constitutional mandate, elections to these Panchayats should have been held before 18/06/2022.