NEW DELHI: The Supreme Court on Wednesday found itself in a tangle while adjudicating a petition by Bihar Legislative Council (BLC) challenging a Patna High Court order fixing the retirement schedule for 24 MLCs to be elected from local bodies.
Though each MLC has a tenure of six years, the HC had directed the Election Commission to fix retirement of eight MLCs after two years and another eight after four years while allowing the remaining eight to retire after serving six years. This was devised by the HC to honour the constitutional provision that though each MLC would have a tenure of six years, one-third of them would retire after completion of two years.
Appearing for BLC, senior advocate L Nageshwar Rao suggested draw of lots to fix retirement of these three blocs with eight MLCs each. However, both BLC and EC, which was represented by senior advocate Ashok Desai, converged on the argument that the HC had erred by interfering in the election process.
A bench of Chief Justice H L Dattu and Justices Arun Mishra and Amitava Roy said if lots were drawn, the eight MLCs who were to retire after two years would be the first to approach court with petitions.
“Who should retire after two years? This matter requires a serious look. Please tell us a solution on Thursday,” said the bench which was earlier thinking of either staying operation of the HC order or directing postponement of the July 7 BLC elections.
The BLC, in its petition filed through advocate Abhinav Mukerji, said, “The HC, by directing the EC, in consultation with legislative council, to identify and earmark one-third of the 24 seats for terms two, four and six years, has erroneously transgressed upon the function of the legislature by observing that the same constitutes interpreting the law and not amending the same.”
From 1978 till 2002, no elections to local bodies were conducted in Bihar hence the 24-seat bloc in BLC remained vacant and there was no complications about the periodic retirement of MLCs from local body constituencies.