Scrapping voting rights of nominated LAHDC members

Srinagar: Jammu and Kashmir High Court has issued a notice to government on petition filed by some elected members of Congress, seeking scarping of an SRO which confers voting rights to nominated members to elect or remove chairman of Ladakh Autonomous Hill Development Council (LAHDC) Kargil.
Besides the notice returnable within two weeks, a single bench of Justice Bansi Lal Bhat also directed that “subject to objections of the other side, it is provided that, present position of the petitioners shall be maintained till next date of hearing.”
The petitioners—Mohammad Ismail and others are Congress men who were elected as members of the LAHDC Kargil in the election held last year. Apart from them, there are eight other members from Congress who were elected to the LAHDC apart from as many members from National Conference.
Eight other seats were won by the independent candidates while four are nominated members to the 30-mmeber LAHDC. The election to Chairman of the Council was won by Congress’s Asgar Ali Karbalai.
Besides the members of Congress, the Chairman elected has the support of five independent candidates, the petitioners said in the petition.
The Chairman has also put the Executive Council in position which is discharging its duties and responsibilities.
“Any derailment of the Council in the midstream will be prejudicial to the interests of the populace of District Kargil and the Electorate who elected the members of the Council who in turn by majority vote elected Asgar Ali Karbalai as its Chairman.”
However, they said, since none of the political parties had secured majority, an attempt was made to provide voting rights to the nominated members in terms of SRO-394 of 2004.
“The attempt was made by the Government to elect the Chairman of the ruling party, namely, J&K NC, but the attempt did not succeed because in its meeting held on 16 July 2013 under the Chairmanship of Chief Minister the issues relating to LAHDC, Leh/Kargil were discussed and certain decisions were taken which included that nominated Councilors shall not be given voting rights for electing or removal of tin Chairman or Chief Executive Councilor.
As on date, they said, attempts are again made to derail the functioning of the Council by Councilors of J&K NC supported by Ladakh Affairs Department to remove the Chairman of the Council by providing voting rights to nominated members on the strength of SRO issued in the year 2004.
The petitioners said that government has shown slackness in implementation of the decision taken in the meeting chaired by the Chief Minister.
The petitioners said that his clients have repeatedly requested the Government to implement the decision on July 16 last by moving a necessary proposal for scrapping the SRO 394 of 2004.
“But as on date no positive steps have been taken in that behalf,” they said, underlining that the Government was bound by its own decisions to bring to an end the “infamous and invalid SRO 394 of 2004 which is contrary to statute”.
“The SRO has not been given any effect till date and had been issued beyond the rule making power of the Government and if it is allowed to operate the elected members will be deprived of their democratic rights which shall have far-reaching consequences leading to destroying the concept of local governance through democratic set up.”
The petitioners also submitted that till the appropriate steps were taken by the government, they shall be allowed to continue and status quo may be ordered to be maintained with regard to constitution and functioning of the LAHDC, Kargil. The petitioners were represented before the court by advocate G A Lone.