January 26, 2021 9:32:43 am
The Supreme Court Monday rejected the Y S Jagan Mohan Reddy government’s plea challenging the decision of the State Election Commission (SEC) to hold local body polls in Andhra Pradesh in February and attributed the problems to an “ego battle” between authorities.
“Ego problems between two authorities are causing all this…We will not be party to an ego battle”, Justice S K Kaul heading a two-judge bench remarked while dismissing the state’s plea which sought postponement of the polls on the ground that the vaccination drive against Covid-10 was underway.
Appearing for the state government, Senior Advocate Mukul Rohatgi contended that lakhs of staff members have to be vaccinated besides police personnel and that this would require time. HE pointed out that Goa too had postponed its election and added that it can commence from March 1 by which time the vaccination will be over.
However, the court was not inclined to grant the request.
Hearing a plea by the state government, a single Bench of the HC had suspended the SEC notification to hold the polls in four phases in February. On appeal by the SEC, a Division Bench however reversed the Single Judge order against which the state approached the SC.
The AP appeal questioned the State Election Commissioner N Ramesh Kumar and said he “is not qualified – having no medical expertise – to decide whether Elections ought to be conducted at a time when vaccination drive is on full swing and the effect of elections on (i) the vaccination drive and (ii) the spread of virus”.
The state contended that going ahead with the elections as scheduled by the SEC can “put the entire vaccination drive into a disarray and endanger the lives of lakhs of citizens” besides putting the police force under strain.
Rubbishing the arguments, the bench also comprising Justice Hrishikesh Roy remarked that “ego problem between two authorities is leading to lawlessness. We cannot allow this. How can resolutions be passed against the N Ramesh Kumar? We cannot be a part of this ego battle”.
The court pointed out that polls were conducted in states including Kerala during COVID-19 and that the plea to defer it citing COVID-19 vaccine drive cannot be sustainable.
“We cannot take over the jobs of everyone. There are some political and administrative decisions. Some decisions will be taken by the Election Commission. This makes me feel this is not the issue, it is something else,” observed Justice Kaul.
The SC also pointed out that the HC Single Judge order does not give any reason for its conclusion against going ahead with the election.
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