HC quashes superseding of Belgaum Corporation

The High Court Circuit Bench (HCCB) in Dharwad on Tuesday quashed the State government’s order superceding the Belgaum City Corporation (BCC).

The single judge bench of Justice Mohan Shantanagoudar passed the order on a writ petition filed by corporator Lateefkhan Pathan and 20 others, who had opposed the government’s decision to supercede the elected body. The appeal stated that the government’s act violated the provisions of Article 243(U) of the Constitution.

Justice Shantanagoudar termed the government’s decision a sheer abuse of democratic norms. Article 243(U) says members of urban local bodies are elected by the people for a term of five years and the government cannot seize their powers before the completion of their term. The judge observed that the corporators had not been given an opportunity to explain their stand.

The government had superceded the Belgaum City Corporation on December 15, 2011, on the grounds that it had acted in a manner detrimental to the interests of Karnataka and Kannada language.

The BCC council had opposed the felicitation of Kannada writer Chandrashekhar Kambar, after he was who was chosen for the Jnanapith award. The government had also taken note of Mayor Manda Balekundri participating in the ‘Black Day’ protest called by the Maharashtra Ekikaran Samiti on Karnataka Rajyotsava (November 1) last year. Another reason for the government to supersede BCC was that it did not hold its meetings regularly as per norms.

Justice Shantanagoudar said in his order that all the 23 corporators who had been served show-cause notices by the government should personally appear before the under-secretary to the municipal administration department on June 25 at the Zilla Panchayat meeting hall in Belgaum, and give their replies.

Meanwhile, Urban Development Minister S Suresh Kumar told reporters in Hubli on Tuesday that a meeting of all members of the BCC would be called on June 25 to collect their opinions individually, regarding the superseding of the BCC, in the backdrop of the High Court order.

Not spending allocated funds and failure to take decisions were the other reasons for superseding the BCC, he said.

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