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Ballot fight goes to court Petition against ward rejig

Cuttack, Dec. 17: The reservation of wards of the municipal corporation for the forthcoming civic polls has been challenged in Orissa High Court.

The housing and urban development department had issued a notification increasing the number of wards of Cuttack Municipal Corporation from 54 to 59, while reserving 30 of them for women.

A petition has alleged that the state government, while reserving wards for women, had not adhered to the Orissa Municipal Corporation (Division of City into Wards, Reservation of Seats and Conduct of Election) Rules, 2003.

The petition, filed by Seshadev Nanda, a sitting councillor of the Nationalist Congress Party who had won four consecutive civic polls from ward No. 10, said that his ward, after being designated as ward No. 13, had been reserved for general category women despite 15 other wards with more women population not being thus reserved.

“The division bench of Chief Justice A.K. Goel and Justice A.K. Rath issued notices to the commissioner-cum-director of municipal administration yesterday, asking him to file a reply,” petitioner counsel Upendra Samal told The Telegraph.

“Our contention was that the Orissa Municipal Corporation (Division of City into Wards, Reservation of Seats and Conduct of Election) Rules, 2003, prescribe that the reservation shall be made according to the women population in descending order. Accordingly, ward No. 13 ranks 36 in the descending order. But this ward has been reserved for women when only 30 of the 59 wards have been thus reserved,” Samal said.

According to the petition, the wards which have more women population than ward No. 13, but have not been reserved for women are 10, 49, 52, 12, 33, 37, 48, 43, 31, 55, 34, 9, 1, 16 and 11. The petitioner had filed an objection on August 16 in response to the draft notification issued on August 12 by the state housing and urban development department on the delimitation of wards and reservation in the Cuttack Municipal Corporation. But the final notification was issued on August 31 without taking into consideration the objection, the petition alleged.