शिमला। नगर निगम चुनावों को लेकर शिमला के पांच वार्डों के सीमांकन के मामले में प्रदेश हाईकोर्ट ने जिला उपायुक्त की ओेर से किए गए सीमांकन के आदेश को रदद कर याचिकाकर्ताओं की आपतियों के तहत और अदालत के पूर्व के आदेश के मुताबिक सीमांकन करने के आदेश दिए हैं।
अदालत ने जिला उपायुक्त व मंडलायुक्त की कारगुजारियों पर हैरानी जताई व कहा कि अदालत सदमें है कि जिला उपायुक्त के जिन आदेशों को अदालत ने निरस्त कर दिया था उसे जिला उपायुक्त ने दोबारा सीमाकंन के दौरान सही पाया और मंडलायुक्त ने भी जिला उपायुक्त के आदेशों को बहाल रखा और उच्च न्यायलय के आदेशों को नजरअंदाज कर दिया।
उच्च न्यायालय की न्यायाधीश न्यायमूर्ति सबीना और न्यायमूर्ति सुशील कुकरेजा ने जिला उपायुक्त के साथ मंडलायुक्त के आदेशों को भी निरस्त कर दिया है। खंडपीठ के ये आदेश चुनावों से पहले जयराम सरकार व खास कर शहरी विकास मंत्री सुरेश भारवाज के लिए बडा झटका है। साथ ही प्रदेश उपायुक्त व मंडलायुक्त की कारगुजारियों की भी कलई खोल दी है।
जिला उपायुक्त ने नगर निगम चुनावों से पहले नगर निगम के वार्डों का सीमांकन किया था व वार्डों की संख्या 36 से बढाकर 41 कर दी थी। लेकिन समरहिल, बालूगंज, नाभा,फागली और टूटी कंडी वार्डों के सीमाकंन को लेकर कांग्रेस की पूर्व पूर्व पार्षद और समरहिल से वामपंथी नेता ने अपने वार्डों के सीमांकन में धांधली करने व नियमों को दरकिनार कर सीमांकन करने के इल्जाम लगाए। इन दोनों ने जिला उपायुक्त के सीमांकन के आदेश के खिलाफ मंडला युक्त के पास भी अपील की लेकिन दोनों अधिकारियों ने किसी की नहीं सुनी । बाद में मामला उच्च न्यायालय में गया व उच्च न्यायालय ने जिला उपायुक्त को आदेश दिए कि याचिकाकर्ताओं की आपतियों को ध्यान में रख कर दोबारा से सीमांकन किया जाए।
लेकिन जिला उपायुक्त ने उच्च न्यायालय के आदेशों को कोई तरजीह अपने पहले वाले आदेश को ही बहाल रखा। इस पर याचिकाकर्ताओं ने मंडलायुक्त के सामने दोबारा से अपील कर दी लेकिन आश्चर्यजनक तरीके से मंडलायुक्त ने भी उच्च न्यायालय के आदेश को तरजीह न देते हुए जिला उपायुक्त के आदेशों को ही बहाल रखा । इसके खिलाफ याचिकाकर्ता दोबारा से उच्च न्यायालय में चले गए व खंडपीठ ने आज अपना फैसला सुनाया ।
याद रहे कि इस सीमाकंन के वजह से ही नगर निगम के चुनाव नहीं हो पाए थे ।
याद रहे पूर्व पार्षद सीमी नंदा ने अपनी याचिका में कहा था कि उनके वार्ड का सीमांकन कानून के मुताबिक नहीं किया गया है। उनके वार्ड की बडे हिस्से को काट कर दूसरे वार्ड में मिला दिया है। बाकी साथ के वाडों को सीमांकन के लिए राष्ट्रीय राजमार्ग की छोड दी गई व उनके वार्ड को बाइपास सडक से नीचे ही रखा गया। एक ही घर के मतदाताओं को दो वार्डों में बाट दिया गया। इसी तरह समरहिल वार्ड में भी आपतियां उठाई गई थी।
इन दोनों के मुताबिक यह सब सरकार के ईशारे पर भाजपा को लाभ देने के लिए हुआ था व सरकार ने यह इसलिए कराया ताकि निगम के चुनावों को टाला जा सके।
अदालत ने अपने आदेश में क्या –क्या कहा है यहां पढें-
Controversy involved in the present petitions relate to delimitation of Wards. Petitioners had approached this Court earlier by filing CWP Nos.1391 & 1442 of 2022, challenging the orders passed by the Deputy Commissioner, Shimla dated 24th February, 2022 and the orders passed by Divisional Commissioner, Shimla in appeal dated 8th March, 2022. 3.
So far as petitioner Simi Nanda is concerned, she was aggrieved by the proposed delimitation of Nabha Ward, whereas, petitioner Rajeev Thakur, was aggrieved by the proposed delimitation of Summer Hill area. The writ petitions filed by the petitioners were disposed of by this Court vide order dated 3rd June, 2022 and it was observed as under: “21. A perusal of the above observations reveal that the Deputy Commissioner has failed to consider the factual aspect of the submissions raised by the petitioners. The Deputy Commissioner has failed to consider as to why the population of different wards in question were not being brought at par.
So far as Rule 4 of the Rules is concerned, the Deputy Commissioner was required to take in consideration the fact that equal population as far as practicable in each ward be maintained and each ward was also required to maintain geographical compactness and contiguous in areas and recognizable boundaries. However, a perusal of the impugned order dated 24th February, 2022, passed by the Deputy Commissioner, Shimla, shows that he was more influenced by the fact that no ECI polling stations should transgress the boundaries. As per rules, there was no requirement for the Deputy Commissioner to have gone into the aspect of fixation of ECI polling stations. The fact that fixation of ECI polling stations was to be kept in mind while effecting limits of the wards, does not find mention in Rule 4 of the Rules. The Deputy Commissioner was bound to fix the limits of the wards as described in Rule 4 of the Rules and could not have introduced any other factor for fixing the limits of the wards. So far as the elections relating to Municipal Corporation are concerned, powers of superintendence, direction and control with regard to preparation of electoral rolls, delimitation of wards, reservation and allotment of seats by rotation are vested in the State Election Commission and not Election Commission of India.
The learned Deputy Commissioner while passing the impugned order, has merely narrated the facts and the provisions of the Act, but has failed to give its findings on the factual aspect of the objections raised by the petitioners while rejecting their objections. Rather, the learned Deputy Commissioner has observed that the composition of proposed wards during current delimitation have been in such a manner that no ECI polling stations should transgress the boundaries of a ward.
The said fact was not the requirement of Rule 4 of the Rules while fixing the limits of the wards. . Hence, we are of the considered opinion that the impugned order dated 24th February, 2022 had not been passed in accordance with the provisions of the Act and the Rules while dealing with the fixation of limits of the wards. The appellate authority while dismissing the appeals filed by the petitioners, has also failed to consider this aspect of the matter. The appellate authority, in a mechanical manner, has dismissed the appeals filed by the petitioners without going into the factual aspect of the matter. Learned Deputy Commissioner as well as the learned Appellate Authority were bound by the provisions of the Act and the Rules and could not travel beyond them.
Keeping in view the facts and circumstances of the case, we are of the opinion that the impugned order dated 24th February, 2022 is liable to be set-aside and it would be just and expedient to remand the matter to the learned Deputy Commissioner to decide the objections raised by the petitioners afresh, in accordance with law, after appreciating the material available on record.
Accordingly, both the petitions are allowed. Impugned order dated 24th February, 2022, passed by the learned Deputy Commissioner, Shimla, is set aside, qua delimitation of Ward No.11-Nabha (new Ward No.12- Nabha) and Ward No.5-Summerhill (New Ward No.6- Summerhill). Consequently, the impugned orders dated 8th March, 2022, passed by the appellate authority are also set aside. The learned Deputy Commissioner, Shimla is directed to dispose of the objections moved by thepetitioners afresh, in accordance with law, after appreciating the material available on record.”
Thereafter, respondent No.3, passed the impugned orders dated 24th June, 2022. The said orders were upheld by respondent No.2, in appeal, vide orders dated 8th July, 2022. Hence, the present petitions. We have heard learned counsel for the parties and have gone through the records available on the file carefully.
A perusal of the order passed by this Court dated 3rd June, 2022, reveals that the order passed by respondent No.3 dated 24th February, 2022, had been set aside and the said respondent had been directed to dispose of the objections moved by the petitioners afresh, in accordance with law, after appreciating the material available on record. 7. Respondent No.3, while rejecting the objections filed by the petitioner, has passed similar orders in both the petitions. Operative part of the impugned order dated 24th June, 2022, passed by respondent No.3 in CWP No.4574 of 2022, reads as under:- “ In view of the findings above, I found no merits in the objections raised by Smt. Simmi Nanda and therefore, dismiss the objections. The delimitation order dated 24.02.2022 is as per the provisions laid down in the H.P. Municipal Corporation Act, 1994 and H.P. Municipal Corporation (Election) Rules, 2012 and thus there is no need to make any change to the order. Hence, the objections of the petitioner, therefore, stands decided and disposed of.”
. A perusal of above observations made by respondent No.3 show that the said respondent, while passing the order, has upheld the order dated 24th February, 2022, whereas, the said order had been set aside by this Court. Respondent No.3, while making the observations reproduced above, has treated itself as a Court of appeal, little realizing that while passing the impugned order dated 24th June, 2022, the earlier order dated 24th February, 2022 was held to be passed as per the provisions of the Act and Rules, although, the said order had been set aside by this Court with the observations that the order dated 24th February, 2022 had not been passed in accordance with the provisions of the Act and Rules. It appears that respondent No.3, without going through the contents of the order passed by this Court dated 3rd June, 2022 has passed the impugned order dated 24th June, 2022.
. We are amazed and shocked that the order, which had been categorically set aside by this Court, has been held to be a good order by respondent No.3, while passing the impugned orders. The impugned orders dated 24th June, 2022, have not been passed as per the directions given by this Court vide order dated 3rd June, Hence, the impugned orders dated 24th June, 2022, passed by respondent No.3 are liable to be set aside.
In consequence thereto, the orders passed by the Court of appeal dated 8th July, 2022, are also liable to be set aside.
The appellate Court has also merely upheld the orders passed by respondent No.3 without considering the effect and tenor of the orders dated 24th June, 2022. Accordingly, the petitions are allowed.
Impugned orders dated 24th June, 2022, passed by respondent No.3 and the orders dated 8th July, 2022, passed by respondent No.2 are set aside.
Learned Deputy Commissioner, Shimla, is directed to pass afresh order in conformity with the order passed by this Court dated 3rd June, 2022 and dispose of the objections moved by the petitioners afresh, in accordance with law, after appreciating the material available on record. Pending miscellaneous application(s), if any, shall also stand disposed of.
(Sushil Kukreja) Judge
September 21, 2022