Delhi's Mayoral election, which were scheduled to take place on Thursday, 16 February, have been postponed for the fourth time after the Supreme Court listed a plea pertaining to the matter on Friday, 17 February.
What did the Supreme Court say? While hearing a petition filed by Aam Aadmi Party's (AAP) mayor candidate Shelly Oberoi seeking the elections to be held in a time-bound manner, the Chief Justice of India DY Chandrachud, as reported by LiveLaw, observed: "Nominated members cannot go for election. The Constitutional provision is very clear."
Additional Solicitor General Sanjay Jain, representing the office of the Lieutenant Governor, reportedly said that there are some arguments on the matter.
The matter could not be heard on Monday due to paucity of time. The apex court, however, agreed to take it up on Friday, 17 February.
What happened in the last session?: The last attempt to elect a Mayor in Delhi, held on 6 February, failed after the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) councillors staged a walkout.
The AAP, meanwhile, continued sloganeering against Municipal Corporation of Delhi (MCD) Presiding Officer Satya Sharma's decision to allow nominated councillors (aldermen) to vote in the election.
What's the contention? In the MCD elections held in December 2022, the AAP won 134 out of 250 wards, with the BJP securing the second position with 104.
While AAP will win the Mayor post given its numbers, Sharma's decision to allow nominated members to vote will impact the election of the standing committee, arguably MCD's most powerful body.
Six of the 18-member standing committee were supposed to be chosen on 6 February. In this AAP is slated to win three seats and two will go to the BJP. The fight is over the sixth seat which may go to the BJP if the nominated members vote.
What happened in the previous sessions?: The previous sessions convened on 6 and 24 January ended in a stalemate with the councillors of the parties engaging in verbal and even physical fights over the decision to allow nominated members to vote in the election.
According to the Delhi Municipal Corporation Act, 1957, the administrator (the Lieutenant Governor) has the right to nominate the Aldermen, but the AAP said that the nominated members will be chosen by the Delhi government, citing the 2017 precedent.
Why are the polls important? In December 2022, the AAP, riding high on an anti-incumbency vote wrested power from the BJP in the MCD polls, unseating the latter after a 15-year-rule over the civic body.
After the results were announced, Kejriwal thanked the people of Delhi for the clear mandate and “bringing change.”
It is, however, pertinent to note that the BJP still managed to increase its vote share by 3 percent as compared to the 2017 civic body elections.
While for BJP, managing to take control of the standing committee despite losing the election will be a huge victory, the AAP will also not want to lose control over the civic body after winning a historic mandate.