|Early Times Report|
Jammu, June 11: J&K's Chief Election Commissioner on Tuesday disqualified president Municipal Committee Kathua and three other councillors of Congress for defecting to the BJP in violation of the rules.
The judgment has been passed in a petition filed by advocate Shah Mohammad Choudhary on behalf of Pushpa Devi and Baljeet Singh against the defection of elected councillors of Municipal Council Kathua-president Municipal Committee Kathua Naresh Kumar, Rekha Kumari, councillor, Municipal Council, Ward No. 06, Kathua, Ajay Kumar, councillor, Municipal Council, Ward No. 10, Kathua, and Renu Bala, councillor, Municipal Council, Ward No. 12, Kathua.
The CEC, after hearing Choudhary, observed that in the instant case/reference, the merger, as claimed by the respondents, does not fall under the exception laid down under sub-section 2 of section 18B of the J&K Municipal Act-2000, as the "original political party" of the respondents, that is, the Congress party, has not merged with the BJP. As such respondents cannot claim the protection of sub-section 2 of section 18B of the Act. Moreover, separate group, as claimed by the respondents, has been formed after the conclusion of elections to Municipal Council Kathua, that is, post poll and not pre-poll, the party or group on whose candidature the councillor is elected.
It has been claimed that the group has merged with the BJP and the elected members have become members of BJP. Only four (04) out of five (05) elected members have given up the membership of the Congress party to join the BJP and not their "original political party"-Congress party. However, the respondents failed to produce any records to show that any meeting has been convened or any resolution has been passed or any notice/representation had been made to the Election Authority or District Election Officer, Kathua to inform about the formation of separate group and its merger with BJP by 2/3rd majority.
The respondents however have admitted that they have given up the membership of Congress party. Records reveal that whip was issued to the respondents with a direction to remain present for election of president, Municipal Council Kathua scheduled for 10-11-2018 at 12:30 p.m., for voting in favour of candidate supported by the "original political party" of the respondents, that is, Congress. Records also show that the copies of said whip have been sent to and received by the Office of the Deputy Commissioner, Kathua.
The respondents however did not cast their vote in favour of the candidate (for elections to President, Municipal Council Kathua), supported by their "original political party" i.e, Indian National Congress, thus disobeying the whip, attracting disqualification on defection under clause (b) of section I8A of the Act, though they (respondents) have admitted in their affidavit that their original party was pressurising to vote in favour of an independent candidate as the reason for leaving their original party.