New Delhi / Bengaluru: The Supreme Court on Monday agreed to examine whether an MLA can occupy the position of the chairman of the Bangalore Development Authority (BDA) which is a ”full-time post”.
The issue came up before a bench of Justices S K Kaul and A S Oka which was hearing a petition challenging the September last year order of the Karnataka High Court disposing of two pleas raising various issues, including the one pertaining to the appointment of S R Vishwanath, a sitting MLA, as the chairman of the BDA.
The high court had ruled that the appointment of the chairman and members of the authority did not suffer from any infirmity.
The petitioner had contended before the high court that the BDA chairman, who is a sitting MLA from Yelahanka, cannot be a whole time member of the authority and therefore, is ineligible to hold the post.
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The high court had noted section 3 of the BDA Act, 1976, which deals with constitution and incorporation of the authority, and section 3(5) of the Act which provides that the chairman, engineer member, finance member and town planner member shall be whole time members and other members shall be part time members.
Before the top court, advocate Prashant Bhushan, appearing for the petitioner, contended a sitting MLA could not have been appointed as the chairman of the BDA as it is a ”full time post”.
”On hearing counsel for the petitioner, we are inclined to issue a limited notice in respect of the aspect that the post of the chairman of the Bangalore Development Authority is a full time post and therefore whether an MLA can occupy that post. Issue notice limited to the aforesaid aspect, returnable in six weeks,” the bench said in its order.
The apex court sought responses from the state of Karnataka, BDA and others on the plea filed by a Bengaluru-based advocate and posted the matter for further hearing after six weeks.
In one of the petitions filed before the high court, a grievance was raised that no method of appointment has been prescribed for appointment to the posts of engineer, finance and town planner members of the authority.
The petitioner also assailed the November 2020 notification by which the chairman of the authority was appointed.
Before the high court, the counsel appearing for the chairman had contended that the expression ‘whole time member’ should be construed to mean that a member should be available to attend the duties. It was submitted that the chairman is not disqualified under section 4 of the BDA Act and Article 191(1) empowers the State Legislature to enact the 1956 (Prevention of Disqualification) Act. It was also urged that he has not received any salary as MLA and the government has acted responsibly while appointing the chairman and the members.
While disposing of the pleas, the high court had directed the state to frame guidelines for appointment to the post of engineer or finance or town planner members of the authority so that future appointments to these positions can be made in consonance with the guidelines.