Andhra Pradesh

A.P. challenges HC order to hold local body elections polls

N. Ramesh Kumar  

The Y.S. Jagan Mohan Reddy government on Friday challenged in the Supreme Court an Andhra Pradesh High Court order allowing the State Election Commission to conduct local body elections in February amid the COVID-19 vaccination drive.

The High Court, on January 21, set aside its Single Judge Bench decision on January 11 to halt the election process for the time being.

Seeking a stay of the January 21 order, the State government, through advocate Mahfooz A. Nazki, has arraigned as respondent parties the State Election Commission (SEC) and N. Ramesh Kumar, Andhra Pradesh State Election Commissioner.

The special leave petition said the SEC led by Mr. Kumar decided to hold the gram panchayat elections despite the vaccination drive and the spread of the virus.

“The entire police force of the State is scheduled to be vaccinated with effect from first week of February. This is when the elections are scheduled. In effect, the police will be required to (i) ensure that the entire police force is vaccinated; (ii) ensure that the elections are conducted (ii) ensure storage and transport of the vaccine,” the petition said.

Besides, the SEC had not consulted any health experts before giving the go-ahead for the polls.

“Not only has the respondent rejected the concerns raised by the State [which were shared only after consulting the health experts of the State], a perusal of the material on record would reveal that no health experts have been consulted by the respondent to take such a decision,” the State government criticised.

‘State not consulted’

The State submitted in the petition that even the mandate of the High Court to hold effective consultation with the State was ignored.

“The directions passed by the High Court, the respondent was under a mandate to take into account the views of the petitioner/State government before taking any decision on holding of elections in the State... The petitioner has duly shared these concerns. However, the same have been summarily rejected,” the petition said.

The State said it was in an “unfortunate position” to apprise the top court that the “only consideration that appears to have weighed with respondent No.2 (Mr. Kumar) to declare elections is that he is retiring in March 2021 and wishes to conduct the election before that”.

“The fact that such election can put the vaccination drive into a disarray and endanger the lives of lakhs of citizens does not appear to have weighed with the respondent No.2... any election at this stage would be ill-conceived,” the State said.

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Printable version | Feb 28, 2021 6:52:02 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/andhra-pradesh/ap-challenges-hc-order-to-hold-local-body-elections-polls/article33638226.ece

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