Gauhati High Court, Aizawl Bench Dismisses The Writ Petition Filed By BJP VC Members Of Baganpara; CADC Urged to Re-Look The CADC VC Act 2003

Kamalanagar, 24 September 2016: The Gauhati High Court Aizawl Bench, in its Judgment dated 31.08.2016 over the W.P.(C) No.109 of 2015, while dismissing the writ petition filed by the BJP Village Council members of Baganpara on the ground that there was no challenge to the Chakma Autonomous District Council (Village Council) Act 2003 expressed opinion that the concerned authority should have a re-look into the provision of the CADC (Village Council) Act, 2003 with regards to the voting rights of the Nominated Members for election /selection of the President/Vice-President of the Village Councils.

In the General Election to Village Councils in CADC held on 25/2/2015 in a seven members village council of Baganpara village, the BJP secured a majority by winning 4 (four) seats against the INC who won 3 (three) seats. However, nominated members were appointed by the CEM, CADC before the election of the President of the Village Council which rendered the BJP members minority. Subsequently, when election of the village council president and vice-president was held the INC members had the support of majority of votes with the support of the nominated members.

The BJP members aggrieved by the authority of CADC filed a writ petition with the Gauhati High Court Aizawl Bench while submitting that nominated members do not have the right to vote for election/selection of the President of Village Council as they do not get elected by adult suffrage. The petitioners further submitted that the selection of the President of the village council and vice-president of the village council can be made only from amongst the elected members of the village council and thus, only the elected village council members can vote for selection of the President/Vice-President.

Mr. A.K. Rokhum, standing counsel for CADC submitted that there was no bar for the nominated village council members to cast their vote for selection of the President of the village council and rather Section 16(4) of the CADC (Village Council) Act 2003 allows a nominated members to vote.

In the course of the hearing held 29/8/2016 the Village Council Act of the other two sister councils Lai and Mara were also examined. The LADC (Village Councils) Act, 2007, states, β€œThe other nominated members shall be appointed by the Executive Committee of LADC on the recommendation of the President of the Village Council immediately.” And which implies that a President of a Village Council in the LADC areas can be elected only by the elected Village Council members. In the case of the MADC the Act is silent on whether a nominated member can cast his vote for election/selection of a President/vice-President of the village council.

The court after hearing the counsels of both the parties found that there was no bar for the nominated members of village councils in CADC to cast their votes for election of the President. However, the court made an observation that the very purpose of having a village council, where a majority of the members of the village council are elected through adult suffrage, gets defeated due to the nominated members having the rights for election of the President/Vice-President.
It was also noted that the Constitution, Conduct of Business etc. Rules of all the 3 ADCs gave no voting rights to the nominated MDCs for election of the Executive Committee and Chief Executive Member.

The Court finally observed as – β€œDemocracy has to start from the grassroots and if nominated members are in a position to deny the representatives of the majority of voters, the right to hold the top post of the village council, the effect could amount to trampling of democracy. In view of the above reasons, this court is of the opinion that the respondents’ (CADC) concerned should have a re-look into the previsions of the CADC (Village Council) Act, 2003 and the subsequent amendments and take a decision, as to whether it would be appropriate to deny voting rights to the nominated members, for election/selection of the President/Vice-President of the Village Councils.”