HC refuses to give interim order to stay conduct of gram panchayat polls in AP

Vijayawada: The Andhra Pradesh High Court on Tuesday refused to issue an interim order directing the State Election Commission to stay the execution of its proceedings to conduct gram panchayat polls in February 2021, and directed the poll body to file a counter-affidavit and posted the next hearing on December 14.

A High Court Division Bench headed by Justice D.V.S.S. Somayajulu heard a petition filed by the state government challenging the election proceedings issued by the SEC on November 11 to conduct gram panchayat polls in February 2021. The state government contended that the prevailing atmosphere in the state was not conducive to conduct elections in the wake of Covid-19 pandemic. The state government also argued that the allotment of officials and police personnel for the conduct of the election was not possible as they were preoccupied with Covid-19 related work.

The court observed that there was a need to consider several issues at depth before issuing any direction on the issue and asked whether this court could interdict the impugned order and if it was the case, whether it would amount to an interference with the order issued earlier by the Division Bench to be examined.

The court wanted to examine whether the election process had already commenced and there was the only postponement of it and that it also wanted to examine whether it could stay elections in case the poll process had already commenced. The court also wanted to find out whether circumstances in the state were conducive for the conduct of elections due to Covid-19.

Advocate-general S. Sriram pointed out that the SEC’s issue of election proceedings for conduct of gram panchayat polls in February 2021 was not based on rational consideration of the facts,  while SEC’s counsel N. Ashwini Kumar maintained that the election body issued such proceedings only after consulting the state government.

Finally, the court directed the state election commissioner to submit all the details by filing a counter-affidavit as there was a need for a deeper investigation and study before the issue of a final order in the case.



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