Tribune News Service
Chandigarh, August 31
Just about a fortnight after its decision to dissolve gram panchayats in Punjab came under the judicial scanner, the government on Thursday announced its decision to withdraw the notification.
Government’s Decision to Withdraw Notification
Appearing before the Bench headed by Chief Justice Ravi Shanker Jha, Punjab Advocate-General Vinod Ghai submitted that the notification would be withdrawn in the next couple of days.
Previous Defense of Decision
The government, during the hearing of a related matter, had earlier defended the decision. It had, among other things, stated that the notification on dissolving gram panchayats was in accordance with constitutional provision.
Affidavit by Director of Rural Development and Panchayat
In an affidavit, Director of Rural Development and Panchayat Gurpreet Singh Khaira stated that the state government had the power to direct the holding of elections for Panchayati Raj Institutions under Section 209 of the Punjab Panchayati Raj Act, 1994.
Reasons and Timeline for Elections
The notification, issued in accordance with the statutory provisions, declared the elections for panchayat samitis and zila parishads by November 25 and gram panchayats by December 31. The affidavit added the State Election Commission required time to prepare for elections, including various related activities such as revising electoral rolls, setting up polling booths, coordinating with law enforcement, and other essential arrangements.
Compliance with Constitutional Provision
The Bench was also told that an election to constitute a panchayat has to be completed before the expiry of its duration and “before the expiration of a period of six months from the date of its dissolution”. As such, “the notification dated August 10 has been issued strictly in accordance with the constitutional provision. The term of gram panchayats has been taken from the date of its first meeting –– January 10, 2019, and these have been dissolved on August 10 within six months before the expiry of the term”.
- Panchayat samiti elections: November 25
- Zila parishad elections: November 25
- Gram panchayat elections: December 31