The Madras High Court has issued a notice to the Tamil Nadu government on a plea by an NGO seeking to forbear special officers, appointed to administer local bodies in absence of elected councils, from implementing any scheme or passing any resolution.
A bench comprising justices V Parthiban and P D Audikesavulu issued the notice on a plea by Change India, an NGO, and posted the matter for hearing immediately after summer vacation of the court which ends on June 3.
Change India, represented by its Director A Narayanan, referred to an an English daily's recent report that with no elected council, the special officer's council of the Chennai Corporation had passed the civic body's annual budget behind closed doors for the second successive year.
The petitioner has already challenged the constitutional validity of extension of tenure of special officers through another PIL which is pending adjudication.
The present petition stated that according to Articles 243 G and 243 W of the Constitution (related to powers of Panchayats and Municipalities), the power to deal with matters and subjects mentioned under these vest only with the local bodies.
These powers cannot be appropriated and exercised by special officers who are not even authorities contemplated under the provisions of the Constitution or recognised therein, the petitioner submitted, and contended that such appropriation was illegal and unconstitutional.
It further submitted that similar "illegal" budgeting exercise is being carried out by other municipal corporations in the state by municipal commissioners and other officers under the garb of special officers.
Election to local bodies, initially scheduled for October 2016 have not been held so far owing to various reasons, including litigations.
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