A Division Bench of the High Court has ruled in favour of the State Election Commission on Thursday saying that it had to fulfill its Constitutional responsibility of conducting the local body polls on time and directed the government to help the Commission in the electoral process.
The Bench comprising Chief Justice Ashok Bhushan and Justice A M Shaffique issued the order on the appeal filed by the state government challenging the Single Judge’s order, halting the formation of 69 Panchayats, Municipalities and Municipal Corporations. The legal brawl in the case of these newly formed Panchayats and Municipalities worsened the matter leading to an uncertainty over the commencement of the electoral procedures. The court held that it was the ‘Constitutional obligation of EC to conduct the elections and that it is free to take appropriate decision and measures for conducting the polls’. The decision of the Election Commission has thus become crucial in the matter. There are more than two months for the State Election Commission as well as the state government to take necessary steps for conducting elections. The government, EC and the political parties have started with the preparations.
These fundamental areas related to the local self governing bodies need grave attention. The uncertainty over the matter would be hopefully solved with the latest court verdict. Even though the implementation of decentralization of power is the concept behind the local self governments, the reality goes beyond that notion. An extensive study on the matter in the form of series of articles titled ‘Thadhesheeyam: Kathirum Pathirum’ was published for the readers considering that the appropriate time for such an evaluation was the time when the local self governments confront the people after completing five years. It’s time to analyse questions such as whether the power has reached the people through these local civil bodies in a way envisaged by the Constitution and the law as the prime factor of people’s power, if the political parties have creatively utilized the self governments and also whether it had led to the empowerment of women through their reservation and so on.
Mahatma Gandhi had dreamt of Grama Swaraj along with the country’s independence. The decentralization of power envisaged by Rajiv Gandhi came into effect in 1992 through the 73rd Constitutional amendment. Not only did it happen but it was also termed as disappointing by Mani Shankar Aiyar who was entrusted to study and submit a report on the matter during the time of UPA government. Things are not different in Kerala as well. The Panchayat/Muncipality governance is often seen as a way of amassing power and for earning a living by a majority of politicians. Questions arise about the over politisising of Panchayat raj that aims at the basic development of the state. But it shouldn’t be forgotten that there are Panchayat Committees that serve the people and the society. We found that there were cases of regularly conducting Grama Sabhas for the people to express their opinions, suggestions and wishes. A total liquor ban with the Panchayats in the forefront, successful completion of the small scale irrigation projects and effectively operating the mobile clinical units were all achieved through combined public efforts. There have been instances of members of the same party or different parties of the same Front engaging in brawl and ruining the social atmosphere. Not even a single Corporation or Municipality has achieved progress in taking effective steps towards the basic development of the state or in finding a permanent solution to serious matters like garbage disposal. It is presently the apt time for the voting public to carry out the necessary analysis about the representatives and then cast their votes.