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Tuesday, January 26, 2021

Andhra High Court suspends state poll panel notification for panchayat elections

The commission announced on January 9 that it will hold panchayat elections in four phases. The elections were scheduled for February 5, 9, 13, and 17.

By: Express News Service | Hyderabad | January 12, 2021 2:03:50 am
Andhra Pradesh High Court on Monday suspended the notification issued by the State Election Commission. (Express Photo)

The Andhra Pradesh High Court on Monday suspended the notification issued by the State Election Commission to hold Panchayat elections in the state.

The commission announced on January 9 that it will hold panchayat elections in four phases. The elections were scheduled for February 5, 9, 13, and 17.

However, the Andhra Pradesh government objected, stating that the Covid-19 situation in the state is not conducive to hold elections. The government challenged the commission’s notification in the High Court.

While observing that the commission had not undertaken an objective decision in the matter, the court impugned the notification in the interests of public health. The commission has not objectively considered the view of the government and has approached the subject matter in its own domain, the order noted. The court also noted that the election programme would hamper the Covid-19 vaccination programme.

Last March, State Election Commissioner N Ramesh Kumar postponed elections to local bodies, citing Covid-19 safety protocols. Early this month, when the State Election Commission was considering announcing the schedule of elections to panchayats, Chief Secretary Adityanath Das met SEC Kumar and conveyed that the government anticipates a second wave of Covid cases and it is not the right time to hold the elections.

However, the commission rejected the government’s appeal to postpone polls by 2-3 months. The decision to hold the elections again put SEC Kumar and the Y S Jaganmohan Reddy-led government on a confrontational path. The government had earlier removed Kumar as SEC. However, the Supreme Court and later the Andhra Pradesh High Court reinstated him.

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