S PRASADA RAJU Vs. STATE OF ANDHRA PRADESH
HIGH COURT OF ANDHRA PRADESH
STATE OF ANDHRA PRADESH
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(1.)These miscellaneous applications'are' filed seeking interim relief of continuing the petitioners who are the elected representatives of the local authorities, be it, Municipalities, Municipal Corporations, Mandal Praja Parishads or Zilla Praja Parishads, pending election of new representatives.
(2.)The writ petitions came to be filed on the verge of the expiry of the term of the period for which the elections were held and in the wake of the Government's proposal to man the above said local authorities in the entire State of Andhra Pradesh through governmental officers by appointing them as Special Officers or Persons-in-charge, by whatever name called. In the main writ petitions, the prayer is to hold elections and pending the same, to continue the petitioners in offices for which they were elected in a democratic'manner'. Such a provision is contained in the relevant statutes under which the petitioners were elected. The said provisions were enabling provisions empowering the government to extend the term of the present incumbents whose term expires and that is a power to be exercised by application of mind. It may be that, extension can be refused on adverse reports and also on some other valid grounds. It is pertinent to mention that ours is a representative democracy and not a monarchical democracy. Ours is the largest democracy in the world and the very essence of democracy is to have the elected representatives at several levels, be it in discharge of sovereign functions, governance of local self-governments or even the co-operative societies. In the governance of these functions, the basic concept is to have elected representatives and in fact, this is a basic feature of the Indian Constitution. The democracy has as its first article of faith, free election of representatives at intervals with a general freedom of expression. In a democratic society of ours, the people and not the Government possess absolute sovereignty. Rule of law cannot be fully realised unless legislative or local bodies are established in accordance with the will of the people. In order to maintain adequately the rule of law, the Government should adhere to the democratic representation.
(3.)The statutes relevant and concerning these matters do provide elections at intervals of every five years. That is a good measure in conformity to democratic norms. But, it has to be seen as to whether the same is followed in true spirit. Instances galore, where elections to local bodies were indefinitely postponed and were manned by the sub-ordinates of the executive naming them as either Special Officers of Persons-in-charge, as the case may be. It has happened in the case of Municipal Corporation of Hyderabad, when there were no elections to the said local body for the period from 1969 to 1986. Now, again it is under the spell of Special Officer who is no other than the Commissioner of Municipal Corporation itself and discharges the function of not only the Commissioner, but also the Standing Committee and its Head. There were no elections conducted to Gram Panchayats, Panchayat Samithis and Zilla Parishads for a period of more than five years during 1975-1981. The elections to Co-operative societies were not conducted for quite a long time and this Court had to intervene and issue directions which were ultimately complied with only during the months of January and February, 1992. Having regard to this, during the course of arguments, we had sought for a definite period within which time-frame, the elections to the local bodies in question in this batch of writ petitions can be held. The learned Advocate-General, representing the State, sought for time to obtain instructions in this regard from the State Government and had on 22-4-1992, apart from oral assurance, has produced letters addressed by the concerned Secretaries to him, one concerning Municipalities including Municipal Corporations and another, concerning the Mandal Praja Parishads and Zilla Praja Parishads, undertaking to conduct elections by the end of October, 1992 and by the end of November, 1992 respectively. We record the said undertaking and direct the Government to conduct elections to the above local bodies within the above time-frame.
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