Bengaluru Civic Polls: Revised voter list to be ready by September 22, BBMP tells HC

Judge Hemanth Chandanagoudar was hearing the batch of petitions challenging Bengaluru’s ward demarcation process.

The Karnataka High Court listed a batch of petitions challenging the demarcation of Bruhat Bengaluru Mahanagara Palike (BBMP) ward for writs on September 21. The State Election Commission (SEC) had submitted to the court that it would release the revised voters list in September. 22.

Judge Hemanth Chandanagoudar hears the batch of petitions filed challenging the way the demarcation of wards in Bengaluru was carried out. The number of wards increased from 198 to 243. The government had defended the delimitation and declared that the average population in each ward was maintained at 34,750 with a deviation of 10%. The demarcation was done in order to start the process of conducting the much-delayed BBMP elections.

The Supreme Court said the High Court could decide the matter. The High Court also found the challenge to the boundary exercise to be admissible. The court was again informed on Tuesday September 13 that the final list of voters would be ready on September 22 after consideration of objections.

When lawyers for one of the claimants argued in court that the demarcation exercise was ‘malicious’, the High Court said this was unproven. “Where is the malice? I asked learned lawyers to establish dishonesty. That they are unable to do so,” the court said. The court said uniformity across all neighborhoods was not an absolute necessity.

“Section 82 was interpreted by the Supreme Court and held that there was no uniformity in the constituencies,” the court said. Further adding that the renaming of the neighborhoods could wait for the next elections. Under Article 82 of the Indian Constitution, Parliament enacts a delimitation exercise after each census.

The state government conducted a ward demarcation exercise which increased the number of Bruhat Bengaluru Mahanagara Palike (BBMP) council seats from 198 to 243 based on the population and demographics of the city of Bengaluru. A draft service reservation list was then made available. This list indicates that 81 of the 243 seats are reserved for OBC candidates, 28 seats are reserved for SC candidates and four seats are reserved for ST candidates. 130 places are allocated to applicants in the general category. In all the above categories, seats have additionally been reserved for women in half of the available seats.

However, Congress leaders were unhappy with the list and challenged the same in the High Court. They consider a reserve to be fair if it faithfully represents the local population. Therefore, if a neighborhood is to be reserved for members of a Scheduled Caste (SC) or Scheduled Tribe (ST), a significant proportion of SC/ST residents must live there, Congress said. Abdul Wajid, a former corporator of the Congress, had claimed that the population does not represent the implementation of the reserve and when it comes to the reserve for women, it must be disseminated throughout the city. But in pro-Congress districts like Gandhi Nagar and BTM Layout, the majority of neighborhoods have been consolidated and reserved for women, according to the party.

Read also BBMP polls: BJP accused of using delimitation and reservation to boost its chances

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