New Delhi: The Supreme Court has agreed to hear on Friday a petition filed by Aam Aadmi Party’s (AAP) mayoral candidate Shelly Oberoi seeking timely election of mayor and deputy mayor in the Municipal Corporation of Delhi (MCD), and a direction to restrain the nominated councillors to the House from exercising their vote.
The petition filed on Thursday by advocate Shadan Farasat was mentioned before a bench headed by Chief Justice of India (CJI) Dhananjaya Y Chandrachud for urgent listing. Senior advocate Abhishek Singhvi appearing for the petitioners-- Oberoi and AAP leader of the House in MCD Mukesh Goel-- told the court that the matter relates to the mayor elections in Delhi.
The bench, also comprising of justice Dipankar Dutta, ordered the petition to be listed on February 3 for hearing. The petition has sought the mayor election to be held in a time-bound manner as it has been delayed for over a month despite AAP securing majority in the MCD polls declared on December 7.
The Arvind Kejriwal-led AAP won 134 out of 250 wards. It ended the Bharatiya Janata Party’s (BJP) 15-year reign over the municipal body. The BJP managed won 104 wards finishing second followed by the Congress which garnered a measly nine wards.
The petition has also urged the top court to not allow the 10 nominated members in the House to cast vote. These members were nominated by the Lieutenant Governor (LG), Vinai Kumar Saxena, as aldermen. On January 6, when the MCD assembled for the first time, the elections to the posts of Mayor, deputy mayor and Standing Committee members could not be held due to a ruckus over the presiding officer allowing the nominated members to take oath ahead of the elected councillors. The House met for a second on January 24, but again the elections could not be held.
AAP spokesperson Saurabh Bhardwaj on Friday said that the AAP expresses gratitude to the Supreme Court of India for scheduling a prompt hearing. “The whole country knows the AAP wanted to hold the mayoral elections but the BJP is seeking to illegally cling to power in MCD. We have been forced to seek Supreme Court intervention to end BJP’s illegal control of MCD. The Supreme Court should give strict orders to the BJP’s central government and the MCD administration so that the new government is may take over in the civic body. Aldermen do not have the right to vote in the constitution and the Delhi Municipal Corporation Act,” Bhardwaj said.
He said that the AAP has appealed to the apex court that the people of Delhi urgently need a new mayor to lead the city. “We have requested the court to ensure that the mayoral election is conducted in accordance with the Constitution and the Delhi Municipal Corporation Act, 1957, which stipulate that aldermen cannot participate in the mayoral election,” he added.
This is not the first time that the AAP has taken recourse to courts in matters concerning MCD. In March, when the elections to the trifurcated MCD (East, South and North as it existed prior to its reunification by Parliament in April), were getting delayed, the AAP had approached the top court for a direction to ensure timely holding of elections.
In its latest petition, the AAP’s mayoral candidate and leader of the House have cited several provisions of the Delhi Municipal Corporation Act to show how the party is not being allowed to carry on with the functioning of the MCD. It further stated that the election of mayor and deputy Mayor should be held as per law which does not permit aldermen to cast vote.
Bharadwaj, AAP MLA from Greater Kailash, said that the people of Delhi have given the AAP a clear mandate to govern MCD. “In contrast, the BJP’s actions reveal their desire to maintain control over the MCD, despite the fact that their tenure ended in March 2022. They have no legal or moral right to continue to govern the MCD. For the past one year, they have used one pretext or another to illegally maintain control over the MCD,” he added.