Updated: July 2, 2021 5:56:35 am
Ahead of Saturday’s Zila panchayat president elections in Uttar Pradesh, the Allahabad High Court on Thursday directed the State Election Commission “to ensure free and fair elections and to strictly implement the circulars/orders” issued by the Election Commission “as is expected of it under the Constitution”.
Justice Saurabh Lavania and Justice Rajan Roy of the Lucknow Bench of the High Court made the observation while hearing a petition filed by a candidate for the Zila panchayat president election in Sitapur district.
The petitioner, identified as Anita, contended in her plea that “immense pressure is being exercised on the candidates, their relatives and agents so as to influence the elections in favour of the private opposite party who is affiliated with the ruling party of the state”.
“First Information Reports (FIRs) are being lodged against relatives of the candidates etc… The apprehension is that the election would not be free and fair. Hence, the prayer is for appointment of Observer by the Court and for videography of the election process,” the petitioner’s lawyers submitted.
The petitioner also sought that the election be conducted strictly in accordance with the UP Zila Panchayat (Election of President and Vice President and Settlement of Election Disputes) Rules, 1994 and Circular dated November 30, 2010.
“The contention is that at the behest of the opposite party No. 8, every attempt is being made to ensure her success in the elections by manipulating things in her favour in violation of the law of the land,” the petitioner pleaded.
The counsel for the State Election Commission submitted that the High Court has already directed the Commission to ensure that elections are held strictly in accordance with law while hearing a similar writ petition about Lakhimpur Kheri district.
The counsel told the court that IAS officer Sushil Kumar Patel, Joint Managing Director of UP Jal Nigam, has already been appointed as observer for the elections. The selection was based on the names of officers provided by the state government on the requisition of the Election Commission, the court was told.
About the petitioner’s demand for videography of the election process, the counsel of the State Election Commission said the provision is contained in the circular passed on November 30, 2010, “and this practice has been followed in the elections and will be followed in the panchayat polls as well”.
The counsel assured the court that the directions of the Election Commission shall be implemented by the officers. However, the counsel of the petitioner contended that while there was no doubt about it on paper with every direction being issued, “the question is of their proper implementation on the ground level”.
The court said that it is keeping the matter pending “only to have a feedback as to what actually transpires on the date of the election”.
It said that this is being done so that the “larger issues involved herein, if necessary, may be considered by this Court even if the elections have been held”.
The court directed the State Election Commission to file a report in this regard before the next date of hearing on July 9.
📣 The Indian Express is now on Telegram. Click here to join our channel (@indianexpress) and stay updated with the latest headlines
- The Indian Express website has been rated GREEN for its credibility and trustworthiness by Newsguard, a global service that rates news sources for their journalistic standards.