K’taka govt seeks 3 months from HC for BBMP polls

The Karnataka government has filed an interlocutory application (IA) before the Karnataka high court, seeking three months to comply with the court orders to issue notification on the ward reservation in the city, people familiar with the developments said on Wednesday.

Civic body Bruhat Bengaluru Mahanagara Palike (BBMP) council’s term expired around 25 months ago. Earlier, the high court had ordered the government to hold the long-delayed election to the BBMP council by December 31 this year. After the delay from the delimitation exercise, now reservation exercise has been delaying the poll process further.

The IA filed by the urban development department claims that the justice K Bhaktavatsala commission has sought more time to get data on the Backward Classes and requires three months’ time from November 30.

The commission – in its supplementary report submitted to the government on October 31 – had said that its earlier report “does not require any change” and “the reservation adopted is in tune with the extant laws”. However, on November 17, the government wrote back to the commission, directing it to re-examine the report and submit additional details.

“The response from the commission would aid the government in coming out with fair and just reservation notification so that the interests of all eligible sections of backward classes are duly addressed,” the application states while seeking the extension of time.

The government had earlier reserved 28 wards for SC (Scheduled Caste) , four for ST (Scheduled Tribe), and 81 seats for OBCs (Other Backward Classes). In its September 30 order, the court had quashed the ward reservation notification and had ordered the government to issue a fresh notification before November 30 and conclude elections before December 31.

The court had also asked the state to furnish empirical data on SCs/STs, OBCs and women to Bhaktavatsala Commission. On behalf of the government, advocate general Prabhuling Navadgi sought three months to collate the report.

The two-member commission was formed to study the political backwardness of OBCs to justify political reservation for the community in urban and rural local bodies. Retired IAS officer CR Chikkamath is the other member of the commission.

“I submit that the interest of all the parties is duly protected if the extension as sought is granted. The said Commission is to ensure that backward classes are duly represented and it is with this bona fide intention that the present application is being made. No injustice will be caused to any person if the present application is allowed,” the IA read.

The high court is likely to take up the case on November 30.

Srinivas Alavalli of Janaagraha, a Bengaluru-based non profit organisation, said that the mainstream political parties are not serious about the third tier of governance. “Loopholes in the law are being used to delay the election. Bengaluru faced flooding and pothole problems but whom to hold responsible? The chief minister will not lose the state elections because of Bengaluru. The city has only 28 seats,” he said.

Meanwhile, the Opposition Congress has been accusing the government of delaying the BBMP elections. “The BBMP is being run by government-appointed officers since September 2020, this gives the government more power to control the city. More than that, the government is scared of BBMP election results impacting the Karnataka Assembly elections,” said Abdul Wajeed, a former Congress councillor.