Amid COVID-19 scare, local body polls in A.P. put off for six weeks

Political parties have also requested postponement, says the SEC

March 15, 2020 01:11 pm | Updated 06:06 pm IST - VIJAYAWADA

State Election Commissioner N. Ramesh Kumar. File

State Election Commissioner N. Ramesh Kumar. File

The State Election Commission (SEC) has deferred the local body elections by six weeks due to the threat of COVID-19. It will resume the election process after the arrest of the spread of Coronavirus, or its decline, and normalcy is restored, State Election Commissioner (SEC) N. Ramesh Kumar announced at a press conference here on Sunday.

Mr. Ramesh Kumar said political parties have requested him in a meeting held on March 6 to postpone the polls due to the outbreak of Coronavirus in several parts of the country, and public gatherings across towns and villages for campaigns.

Safeguards needed in place

The Commission has taken inputs from senior health functionaries, who indicated that health safeguards needed to be put in place immediately to avoid large public gatherings in order to contain the possible spread of Coronavirus.

“The Central government has declared the Coronavirus outbreak as a notified disaster prompting necessary measures by the States. There was a likelihood of the movement of a large number of voters from Telangana, Karnataka, Tamil Nadu and Odisha, which could aggravate the situation,” he stated.

Cites SC judgement

Citing a judgement by the Supreme Court in Kishan Singh Tomar v/s Municipal Corporation of Ahmedabad that elections could be postponed for genuine supervening difficulties and exceptional circumstances like natural disasters or man-made calamities like rioting or (L&O) breakdown, till normalcy was restored, Mr. Ramesh Kumar said the decision to put the elections on hold has been taken in view of the challenge posed by COVID-19.

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