New Delhi, February 9
The civic budget 2023-24 is likely to be passed by the special officer of the Municipal Corporation of Delhi as the mayoral election is still due and less than a week is left to complete the budget exercise, sources said on Thursday.
If this happens, it will be an “unprecedented development” in the civic body’s journey as budget is traditionally passed by a House, they said.
The municipal House in Delhi on February 6 had failed to elect a mayor for the third time in a row in a month, following ruckus over the decision to allow aldermen to vote in the mayoral poll, even as the AAP alleged a “planned conspiracy” by the BJP to stall the process.
An agitated AAP, which is seeking a “court-monitored” election, moved the Supreme Court on Tuesday over this issue.
The Supreme Court on Wednesday sought responses of the office of the lieutenant governor, pro tem presiding officer of the MCD Satya Sharma, and others on a plea filed by AAP’s mayoral candidate Shelly Oberoi.
A bench of Chief Justice D Y Chandrachud and Justices P S Narasimha and J B Pardiwala said it is issuing notice on the plea and seeking replies by next Monday.
Municipal Commissioner Gyanesh Bharti on December 8 had presented the civic body’s budget to the MCD’s Special Officer Ashwani Kumar, official sources had earlier said.
The annual budget has to be presented by a commissioner before December 10, according to statutory requirements.
The budget is eventually approved by the Leader of House in a special meeting of the House chaired by the mayor.
“However, as the House is still to get a mayor after three attempts in vain, and the matter has now gone to court, and the budget exercise is to be completed latest by February 15 as statutorily mandated under the DMC Act, 1957, it seems the budget will be passed by the special officer only,” an official source said.
If the budget gets passed without a mayor in charge of the House, it will be an “unprecedented development” in the civic body’s journey since its inception, he said.
The House in January had convened for the first time after the high-stakes December 4 civic polls and was adjourned following acrimonious exchanges between members of the BJP and the AAP.
The second municipal House held on January 24, was briefly adjourned after the oath-taking ceremony, and was later adjourned till next date by the pro tem presiding officer.
After the House was adjourned on Monday again for the third time, a month after the first municipal House, the AAP had alleged that the mayoral election could not be held on Monday as the BJP is “strangulating democracy and the Constitution of India”, while the saffron party accused the Aam Aadmi Party of coming out with excuses to stall the mayoral poll and blamed the AAP for the stalemate.
The AAP had emerged as a clear winner in the December 4 polls, bagging 134 wards and ending the BJP’s 15-year rule in the civic body. The BJP won 104 wards to finish second, while the Congress won nine wards in the 250-member municipal House.
The civic body in Delhi had 272 wards across its three corporations — NDMC, SDMC, and EDMC, which existed from 2012-2022 — before being reunified into a sole MCD which formally came into existence on May 22 last year.
The commissioner had presented the MCD budget in December which included the revised budget estimate for 2022-23 and budget estimate for 2023-24, an official source had said.
Since there is no House currently, the budget was presented to the special officer, who also currently holds a position equivalent to a Standing Committee, sources had then said.
The original MCD, established in 1958, was trifurcated in 2012 during Sheila Dikshit’s tenure as the chief minister of Delhi.
The December 4 civic poll was the first municipal election after the reunification of the civic bodies and a fresh delimitation exercise subsequently.
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