Delhi Mayor Shelly Oberoi on Thursday opposed before the Delhi High Court BJP councillors’ challenge to the re-election of six members of MCD standing committee, saying the decision was taken in the interest of free and fair polls.
Senior lawyer Rahul Mehra, appearing for the mayor, also the returning officer, said fresh “re-polls” and not “re-election” was ordered by her in view of the commotion in the House and the present petitions should not be entertained by the court at a stage when the election process is yet to be concluded.
“Returning officer (RO) 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 am directing a re-poll,” argued Mehra before Justice Purushaindra Kumar Kaurav.
The mayor had on February 24 announced fresh polling for electing six members of the Municipal Corporation of Delhi (MCD) standing committee on February 27 at 11 am amid clashes between councillors of the BJP and the AAP in the municipal House.
On petitions by Kamaljeet Sehrawat and Shikha Roy, the high court had stayed re-election on February 25.
Senior advocate Jayant Mehta, representing one of the petitioners, said 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.
Mehra, on the other hand, emphasised 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.
Stating that the petitions before the court were stalling the election process, Mehra said the election of six members of MCD standing committee should be allowed to be concluded as soon as possible.
“Mayor is saying re-polling and doesn’t say de-novo election from nomination. This (election process) must be allowed to proceed further,” he said.
On February 25, the high court had stayed re-election for six members scheduled for February 27, saying the mayor prima facie acted beyond her powers in ordering a fresh poll.
The MCD House had witnessed ruckus on February 22 with members of the BJP and the AAP exchanging blows and hurling plastic bottles at each other during the polling for the posts.
The House was again rocked by clashes after fresh elections were held on February 24, and Mayor Oberoi subsequently alleged that a few members of the saffron party made a life-threatening attack on her.
The petitioners have contended in the high court that the mayor ordered a fresh election for February 27 without declaring the result of the poll held on February 24 in violation of regulation 51 of the Delhi Municipal Corporation (Procedure & Conduct of Business) Regulations, which contains the prescribed procedure.
Roy’s petition, filed through advocate Neeraj, has said the poll was “conducted in a peaceful manner” and there was “no occasion for the mayor to recall the elections”.
The high court had issued a notice to the RO, the Delhi government, Delhi lieutenant governor and MCD on the two pleas while observing that prima facie the decision to hold a re-election in the present case was in violation of the regulation.
The high court had said the governing norms do not reflect that the mayor has the authority to declare the earlier election null and void and conduct the re-election without announcing the results of the previous poll held on February 24.
It had said prima facie the mayor’s action was in violation of the applicable regulations.
The counsel for the mayor had told the court that she had no other alternative but to declare the earlier poll as null and void as the process was vitiated due to the unruly behaviour of the members. The lawyer had also alleged the mayor did not get adequate cooperation from the member secretary and technical experts.
The matter was listed for further hearing next week.