It might be difficult to believe, but Mr. Sambhaji Lakshman Patil from Karnataka is currently both a MLA in the Karnataka Assembly and a councilor in the Belagavi City Corporation. The existing law does not prohibit holding two such positions simultaneously.
The issue of public representatives simultaneously holding two official positions is once again in the lime light, thanks to Mr. Sambhaji Lakshman Patil. He is currently a serving MLA in the Karnataka Legislative Assembly representing the Belgaum South constituency. Not just that, he is also a serving Councilorrepresenting the 15th ward in the Belagavi City Corporation. How is he holding two positions simultaneously? The loopholes in the relevant laws are aiding people like Mr. Patil.
The Parliament/Assembly Elections Vs Local Elections
The Election Commission of India is in charge of conducting the Parliament/Assembly/Council elections, while elections to the local bodies like Municipalities, Corporations & Zilla Parishads are conducted by the State Election Commissions. Effectively, laws related to the Parliament & Assembly elections are made by the Parliament and the laws related to the local body elections are made by the respective State Governments.
The central law does not allow a person to be a MP & a MLA simultaneously
Sections 68,69 & 70 of the Representation of People’s act (1950) do talk about people getting elected simultaneously from multiple houses or multiple constituencies. Rule 91 of the Conduct of Election Rules (1961) specify the timeline within which a member is supposed to resign in case he is elected to multiple houses.
Article 101(2) of the Constitution of India also disallows any person from simultaneously holding the positions of a MP and a MLA.
Then how is Mr. Patil able to hold both positions?
The Central law does not talk about a person holding positions of a MP/MLA and a position in the local body simultaneously. The central law only talks about MP/MLA while the relevant state law talks only about a person being simultaneously elected from multiple divisions.
Section 31 of The Karnataka Municipal Corporations Act (1976) does prohibit simultaneous membership, but only with respect to persons elected from more than one division in the relevant municipal corporation. So technically, a person can simultaneously be a MP/MLA and be a member of the local body like the municipal corporation.
In fact, most state laws have the same glaring loophole. They do not restrict serving MLAs/MPs to contest local body elections and simultaneously hold both the positions. This is absurd for multiple reasons.
Article 243-R of the constitution of India defines the composition of a municipality as including the MPs/MLAs representing constituencies wholly or partially within the municipal area. In other words, all the MPs/MLAs representing constituencies within a municipal region automatically become ex-officio members of the municipality. They however do not enjoy voting rights.
When they hold simultaneous positions like in the case of Mr. Patil, they play dual role in the corporation meetings, as a MLA and also as a Councilor.
The Curious Case of Sambhaji Lakshman Patil
Mr. Sambhaji Lakshman Patil was elected as a Councilor from 15th ward of the Belagavi City Corporation in March 2013. He was later elected to the Karnataka State Assembly from the Belgaum South constituency in May 2013. Since the law does not debar holding these two positions simultaneously, he continues to hold these two positions till date.
In fact, his name is mentioned twice in the city council meeting minutes as he is a member of the city council both as a MLA and as an elected councilor of the 15th ward. It is like the same person playing a dual role.
What is the issue with holding two positions?
When Factly spoke to the Belagavi City Corporation Commissioner, he confirmed Mr. Patil is drawing his salary as a councilor of the city corporation. He also added that there is no violation of the relevant state act because of his holding two positions. Factly also spoke to Mr. Patil who maintained that he is not violating any rule book. Mr. Patil is also drawing salary/allowances as a MLA of the state assembly.
Many countries across the world prohibit such dual mandate since the person cannot do justice to both the roles at the same time. Also, the person continues to draw salary and allowances as allowed for both the positions. It is time the Central & State governments took note of this and correct this glaring loophole in law.
Representation of Shambhaji Lakshman Patil’s public domain photos and Vidhana Soudha image By Muhammad Mahdi Karim www.micro2macro.net and Mydreamsparrow (Own work) [GFDL 1.2], via Wikimedia Commons