In this landmark judgment, Supreme Court held that State Election Commission (SEC) is a Constitutional body and invariably, State Governments should support State Election Commissioner in conducting free and fair Local body elections. It also held that State Commission shall not put forward any excuse based on unreasonable grounds and not yield to situations created by vested interests to postpone elections. It is stated that except in exceptional circumstances of man-made calamities such as rioting or breakdown of law and order, or natural calamities, Election Commission would be justified in delaying the Election Process.
In this direction, it is necessary for all the State governments to recognize the significance of the State Election Commission, which is a constitutional body and it shall abide by the directions of the Commission in the same manner in which it follows the directions of the Election Commission of India during the elections for the Parliament and State Legislatures. In fact, in the domain of elections to the Panchayats and the Municipal bodies under the Part IX and Part IX A for the conduct of the elections to these bodies they enjoy the same status as the Election Commission of India.
From the reading of the said provisions it is clear that the powers of the State Election Commission in respect of conduct of elections is no less than that of the Election Commission of India in their respective domains. These powers are, of course, subject to the law made by Parliament or by State
Legislatures provided the same do not encroach upon the plenary powers of the said Election Commissions.
The State Election Commissions are to function independent of the concerned State Governments in the matter of their powers of superintendence, direction and control of all elections and preparation of electoral rolls for, and the conduct of, all elections to the Panchayats and Municipalities.
Article 243 K (3) also recognizes the independent status of the State Election Commission. It states that upon a request made in that behalf the Governor shall make available to the State Election Commission “such staff as may be necessary for the discharge of the functions conferred on the
State Election Commission by clause (1). It is accordingly to be noted that in the matter of the conduct of elections, the concerned government shall have to render full assistance and co-operation to the State Election Commission and respect the latter’s assessment of the needs in order to ensure that free and fair elections are conducted.
Kishansing Tomar Vs Municipal Corp of Ahmedabad and Ors on 19 October 2006
Also, for the independent and effective functioning of the State Election Commission, where it feels that it is not receiving the cooperation of the concerned State Government in discharging its constitutional obligation of holding the elections to the Panchayats or Municipalities within the time
mandated in the Constitution, it will be open to the State Election Commission to approach the High Courts, in the first instance, and thereafter the Supreme Court for a writ of mandamus or such other appropriate writ directing the concerned State Government to provide all necessary cooperation and assistance to the State Election Commission to enable the latter to fulfill the constitutional mandate.
Citations: [(2006) 8 SCC 352], [2006 (9) JT 320], [2006 SCR SUPP 7 454], [2007 AIR SC 269], [2006 SCALE 10 438], [2007 BOMCR SC 4 414], [2006 AIOL 715]
Other Source links: https://indiankanoon.org/doc/1736371/ and https://www.casemine.com/judgement/in/5609ae35e4b01497114132f5
Couple of election-related judgments here and here.
Reproduced in accordance with Section 52(q) of the Copyright Act 1957 (India) from main.sci.gov.in/judgments, judis.nic.in, lobis.nic.in, indiacode.nic.in and other Indian High Court and District Court Websites such as ecourts.gov.in