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April 18 @ 7:00 am - 11:30 pm


The recent Supreme Court ruling on the Chandigarh mayoral election brings attention to the challenges faced by India’s local urban body electoral processes. Despite robust national and state electoral systems, municipal elections often encounter issues with timely elections and smooth transitions of power.

Legal Framework for Local Elections

Constitutional Provisions:

  • The State Election Commission (SEC) is responsible for electoral rolls’ preparation and overseeing municipal elections.
  • The 74th Constitutional Amendment mandates a five-year tenure for urban local governments and bars judicial interference in municipal electoral matters.

Legal Provisions:

  • The Supreme Court, in the Suresh Mahajan v. State of Madhya Pradesh Case 2022, highlighted the importance of adhering to this constitutional mandate.

Current Status of Municipal Elections

Janaagraha’s Annual Survey 2023:

  • As of September 2021, over 1,400 municipalities lacked elected councils.
  • The CAG’s audit from 2015-2021 found over 1,500 municipalities without elected councils.
  • Major cities like Chennai, Delhi, Mumbai, and Bengaluru experienced significant election delays.

Challenges in Local Bodies’ Elections

Discretionary Powers:

  • SECs have ambiguous constitutional safeguards, granting them discretion over election scheduling.
  • This can result in inconsistent or delayed election timelines, threatening democratic transparency.

Undue State Government Influence:

  • Concerns arise about state governments exerting undue influence to postpone elections for political gain.
  • Such interference can undermine electoral integrity and public trust.

Manual Ballot Processes:

  • Reliance on manual ballot paper-based methods introduces vulnerabilities like counting errors and potential tampering.
  • Modern solutions like Electronic Voting Machines (EVMs) and Voter Verifiable Paper Audit Trails (VVPATs) offer enhanced transparency.

Delayed Council Formation:

  • Post-election, municipal councils often face delays in formation.
  • Example: Karnataka witnessed delays of 12-24 months post-election.

Potential Solutions for Municipal Elections

Empowering SECs:

  • SECs should be empowered to oversee electoral processes effectively using constitutional powers under Articles 243K and 243ZA.

Ward Delimitation Empowerment:

  • Only 11 states/union territories authorize SECs for ward delimitation.
  • SECs require enhanced authority for fair representation through ward delimitation.

Accountability Mechanisms:

  • Election officials should be held accountable for delays or irregularities.
  • Transparent investigations and disciplinary actions can ensure accountability.

Policy Reforms:

  • Comprehensive reforms are essential, from election scheduling to ensuring fair processes.
  • The ‘One Nation, One Election’ concept could streamline local body elections efficiently.


April 18
7:00 am - 11:30 pm
Event Category:
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