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Odisha Sun Times Bureau
Cuttack, Mar 30:

In a major jolt to the state government, the High Court today scrapped the amendment to Odisha Zilla Parishad Election Rules 1994 by the Panchayati Raj department.

The Court rejected the amendment since it was done when the election process was on.

“The bench has accepted all the three of our arguments. Firstly, as per article 243K sub clause 1 at the time of elections all powers are vested with the State Election Commission. The bench by acknowledging  that amendment of the rule by the state government’s Panchayati Raj Department on March 8, this year while the elections were on, was totally illegal and was against the Constitution, scrapped it,” informed Dr Ashok Mohapatra, counsel for the petitioner .

“Besides, the bench acknowledged that the amendment was in contravention of section 51 (1) of the Odisha Zilla Parishad Act since the state government which is required to make a prepublication of the amendment for the knowledge of all stakeholders before issuing a notification which was not done in this case,” he added.

“Further, the bench acknowledging Supreme Court’s directives in the M S Gill case said that after the start of election process Election Commission of India or State Election Commission as the case may be has all the powers, so neither the Assembly nor the Parliament or an executive do not have powers to enact laws at this time,” he stated.

However, the court has made no comments on the validity of the elections held to the posts of chairpersons and vice chairpersons of Zilla Parishads conducted after the notification pertaining to the amendment.

“The bench has made no comments on the validity of the elections held to the posts of the chairpersons and vice chairpersons. But since the amendment made by the state government on March 8 is illegal and unconstitutional and contravenes Odisha Zilla Parishad Act, therefore it is primarily illegal since the rule on which it has been done is invalid,” Mohapatra commented on being asked whether chairpersons and vice chairpersons elected to Zilla Parishads after the notification would lose their posts.