HC issues notice to govt. on plea seeking uniform guidelines for ward committees

The High Court of Karnataka recently ordered the issue of notices to the State Government and Commissioners of 11 city corporations, including Bruhat Bengaluru Mahanagara Palike, in a Public Interest Litigation (PIL) petition seeking uniform and more effective guidelines for constituting ward committees and area sabhas across the State.

A Division Bench of the court, before which the petition came up for hearing, posted the case to November 25 for further hearing. While Kathyayini Chamaraj of CIVIC Bangalore is the lead petitioner, the others are Nagarika Shakti, Bengaluru, represented by Narendra Kumar, Mangalore Civic Group represented by Nigel Albuquerque and Ajoy D’Silva, Jagruta Nagarikara Vedike, Mysuru, Janapara Seva Sansthe, Belagavi, and Karnataka Ward Samiti Vedike members from Kalaburagi, Ballari and Hubballi-Dharwad.

Stating that the 74th Constitutional Amendment Act and the Jawaharlal Nehru National Urban Renewal Mission (JNNURM) mandated institutionalising citizen participation in urban local bodies, the petitioners said that numerous pleas to the government have been made for uniform and more effective guidelines for selection of ward committee and area sabha members. Each municipal corporation, however, is following its own manner of nominating members arbitrarily, necessitating filing of the petition.

Inequality before law is violative of fundamental rights, the petitioners said and pointed out different sets of laws governing BBMP (BBMP Act 2020), city corporations (Karnataka Municipal Corporations Act) and other municipalities (Karnataka Municipalities Act). They said that the municipalities Act is more effective in institutionalising citizen participation in urban local bodies and urged the court for a direction to suitably amend BBMP and the Municipal Corporations Acts.

They also demanded people’s participation structures and uniform, transparent, fair, democratic and participatory methodologies in all urban local bodies.

The Mangalore Civic Group was formed in 2015 as MCC Civic Group to foster citizen participation in local self-governance. Citizens who wish to support the cause taken up by the group may contact Nigel Albuquerque on Ph: 7666873534.

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