The Supreme Court today directed the Tamil Nadu government and the state poll panel to conduct upcoming local bodies' election by relying on 2011 census instead of the 1991 census as alleged by opposition party Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK).
DMK, in its fresh plea, has sought to quash of the notification, issued by the state poll panel on December 7, for local bodies' election alleging that it did not provide quota for women and SC and ST candidates as per the 2011 census and was using 1991 census for this purpose.
"After hearing the arguments, we feel that the interest of justice is subserved by issuing a direction to the respondents (state government and poll panel) to apply 2011 census to all impending elections irrespective of the number of seats determined by the delimitation commission after carrying out the delimitation exercise," a bench headed by Chief Justice SA Bobde said in its order.
The top court, on December 6, had put on hold the elections for the local bodies in nine new districts, carved out of four existing ones, in the state for complying with legal formalities such as delimitation and reservation in four months.
The bench today modified its earlier order and asked the delimitation commission to conclude the delimitation exercise within three months instead of four months in nine districts.
It, however, had said that Tamil Nadu State Election Commission (TNSEC) could proceed with the elections to all panchayats at the village, intermediate and district levels in the remaining 31 revenue districts of the southern state.
DMK, in its plea filed through lawyer Amit Nand Tiwari, has sought a direction to the state government and the poll panel to quash the election notification issued on December 7.
Senior advocates P Chidambaram and AM Singhvi, representing DMK, alleged that the notification of TNSEC did not comply with the Tamil Nadu Panchayats (Reservation of seats and Rotation of Reserved Seats) Rules, 1995.
The plea has sought compliance of legal requirements, including under "Rule 6 of the Tamil Nadu Panchayats (Reservation of Seats and Rotation of Reserved Seats) Rules" on providing quota to women and SC and ST candidates based on 2011 census before issuing a fresh notification for local bodies polls in the state.
Senior advocate Mukul Rohatgi, appearing for the state government, opposed the plea saying it was a "bogus" petition intended to stall the election process which was on.
The reservation of seats inwards is being given under the 2011 census, he said.
The DMK has alleged that the state poll panel has violated the top court's December 6 order which said that while conducting elections, "the respondents shall provide proportionate reservation at all levels, in accordance with the Rule 6" of the Panchayat rules.
The plea said the poll panel has decided to follow the 2016 notification for reservation for the upcoming local bodies elections.
"It is most humbly submitted here that the 2016 notification for reservation of seats is based on the census of 1991 and cannot be used in view of the subsequent Delimitation Act 2017 and the constitution of Delimitation commission to carry out the reservation in local bodies."
"Thus, using the 2016 reservations for local bodies in the present elections, despite alleged fresh delimitation based on a census of 2011 is on the face of it illegal and the impugned notification deserves to be set aside," the plea said.
It said the fresh delimitation has altered boundaries and composition of wards and hence, the earlier reservation notification of 2016 cannot be the basis for conducting current elections.
"The wards, boundaries, populations in the state of Tamil Nadu have been changed and providing reservation, as per the 2016 notification, is on the face of it illegal and the impugned notification deserves to be set aside," it said.