Ker HC | State Election Commission cannot pass interim order in a proceeding pending under S. 4 of Kerala Local Authorities (Prohibition of Defection) Act

Kerala High Court: The Bench of  Shaji P. Chaly, J. hearing a civil writ petition pertaining to a no-confidence motion filed against President of a Gram Panchayat, held that a person accused of defection is entitled to act as a member of the Panchayat until the date of the order of the Commission declaring him as disqualified.

The present petition had been filed by President of the Edavilangu Grama Panchayat who was ousted from his office by carrying out a motion of no-confidence. Consequent to this alleged defection that had taken place in the Panchayat committee, two petitions had been filed by third-parties under Section 4 of the Kerala Local Authorities (Prohibition of Defection) Act, 1999. Petitioner was not a party in these two petitions. His grievance was that without considering the pending petitions, no-confidence motion had been proposed to be considered, i.e., he was sought to be automatically disqualified on the ground of defection.

Petitioner’s contention was that State Election Commission does not have the power to grant any interim order so as to prevent a party from participating in any proceeding under a no-confidence motion; and that he was entitled to act as a member of the Panchayat until the Election Commission’s order declaring him as disqualified.

The Court took note of the judgment in Nattakam Suresh v. Kerala State Election Commission, 2009 SCC OnLine Ker 3917 where it was opined that there is no automatic disqualification of a member on the ground of defection. The Election Commission is not empowered to pass any interim order interdicting the continuance of a member of a local authority and it must dispose of the petition pending before it declaring the alleged defector as disqualified.

In view of the above, the instant petition was allowed and Election Commission was directed to decide petitions pending before it at the earliest. [Aadarsh A.P. v. Block Development Officer, 2019 SCC OnLine Ker 101, Order dated 10-01-2019]

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