SHILLONG, July 13: Arguing that the recent conduct of elections for the post of Chief Executive Member (CEM) of the Khasi Hills Autonomous District Council (KHADC) is not in accordance with the existing rules, the People’s Democratic Front (PDF) has filed a petition against the Council and the State Government on Friday.
The petition was filed by PDF parliamentary party leader James Ban Basaiawmoit before the Meghalaya High Court, which in an order passed here on Friday, has asked the state government, the KHADC and its pro-tem chairperson to file reply affidavit within a week’s time.
During the election held here, NPP member from Nongkrem Hispreaching Son Shylla was elected unopposed after PDF-led People’s Democratic Alliance (PDA) candidate Grace Mary Kharpuri did not turn up for the election without withdrawing her candidature.
“We have filed a petition before the Court against the manner in which the election for the CEM post was conducted. The election was held not according to the rules,” Kharpuri said.
She said that filing of nominations for the post was held on Wednesday and the same was null and void since the Chairman of the KHADC had resigned from the post on Thursday.
Following the chairman’s resignation, the Governor in a notification issued on Thursday had fixed the election for the CEM post to be held on Friday.
However, Kharpuri further alleged that no proper notice informing about the rescheduling of the election was issued to the members especially those from the People’s Democratic Alliance (PDA) comprising the PDF and Congress.
“Some of our members including MDC from Umroi Albinus Lyngdoh received the notice only at 8 am today (Friday) morning (the election was held at 11 am). The Council’s peon came to my only at 1 am to deliver the notice,” she said.
Alleging that the election was held in a hasty manner, the PDF member from Nongshken said that the manner in which it is being done was not acceptable as proper time should have been given enough to all members.
When asked about her candidature, Kharpuri said, “I had not withdrawn my nomination because we have decided to file this petition before the Court.”
Earlier while speaking in the House after the election, newly elected KHADC chief HS Shylla had accused Kharpuri of trying to bribe one of the members supporting the KHDA by offering to “pay all his expenses”.
Not denying this, the Nongskhen MDC said, “I have every right as a candidate to lobby because I need the numbers (to win the election) and there is no harm in it. It is not that I am bribing him (the member) it is because I know he has problems.”
Reacting to another query, Kharpuri said that she has decided to contest the CEM election on her own free will and not as alleged by the KHDA.
“It is not a question of returning to the PDF because I have not resigned from the party till today. My differences with PN Syiem need not be mixed with this. We have a new PP leader and they offer me (to contest) so I accepted,” she said.
On Thursday, a letter signed by PDF chairman PN Syiem and Kharpuri was submitted to the Governor Ganga Prasad urging him to recall the July 12-notification for holding the election to the CEM post on Friday.
“We the undersigned are therefore to most humbly request Your Excellency to kindly withdraw recall the notification dated July 12 and fix a date for election of CEM of KHADC on such further date enabling compliance with Rule 32 (2) of the Assam and Meghalaya Autonomous Districts (Constitution of District Councils) 1951 and oblige,” they stated in the letter.
According to them, the election for CEM of KHADC has to be conducted in consonance with Rule 32 of the Assam and Meghalaya Autonomous Districts (Constitution of District Councils) Rules, 1951.
‘Presently the election to the post of CEM was scheduled to be held on July 12 in pursuance of the notification dated July 10 whereby your excellency had fixed July 12 for such election. Necessarily therefore under Rule 32 (2) of the AD Rules, the nominations were filed in the forenoon of July 11.’ The letter further stated.
“Unfortunately owing to the resignation of the Chairman of the KHADC, the election could not be held on July 12 and we as members of the District Council have been put to notice that the election for CEM of KHADC has now been fixed on July 13,” they said in the letter.
“In this connection it is to be brought to your notice that a prerequisite for holding the election as notified by your excellency under Rule 31 (1) at least an additional day’s notice is mandatorily required to effectively comply with the Rule 32 (2) of the AD Rules,” they said.
Rule 32 (2) states: “At any time before noon on the day proceeding the date so fixed any member may nominate another member for election as Chairman by delivering or causing to be delivered in the manner hereinafter provided to the Secretary of the District Council or in his absence, the Deputy Commissioner, a nomination paper signed by himself, a proposer and by third member as second stating: Name of the member nominated or That the proposer has ascertained that such member is willing to serve as Chairman, if elected.”