SEC can take decision as per law on issue of holding polls to 5,800 GPs: HC

The High Court of Karnataka on Friday gave the liberty to the State Election Commission (SEC) to take a decision as per law on holding elections to around 5,800 gram panchayats (GPs) even though the court has reserved orders on a public interest litigation (PIL) petition which sought directions for holding the elections without further delay.

A Division Bench comprising Chief Justice Abhay Shreeniwas Oka and Justice Ashok S. Kinagi made these observations in the order while reserving the verdict on the petition, filed by K.C. Kondaiah, a Congress MLC, and four others.

Advocate-General Prabhuling K. Navadgi told the Bench that there is a need to postpone elections to gram panchayats considering the increase in the number of COVID-19 positive cases and the SEC should take the government into confidence in view of the pandemic as the health of citizens is the priority at present.

However, the SEC said it had a series of discussions with all the district administrations and the police on holding the elections, after the conclusion of the byelections to the State Assembly, in a phased manner by ensuring health safety of citizens and the public servants on election duty.

During the hearing, the Bench said the elections can be held in districts where the number of COVID-19 cases is less while reminding the conduct of SSLC exams, when the A-G said it was difficult to enforce COVID-19 norms during election campaign at village levels. “We can control students but not politicians,” the A-G replied while showing a photograph of how COVID-19 norms were violated during election campaign in Bihar.

The High Court, in June itself, prima facie had held that no power is vested with the SEC under the Constitution or the Karnataka Gram Swaraj and Panchayat Raj Act to postpone elections while asking the SEC to reconsider its May 28 decision to temporarily put off the polls.

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Printable version | Dec 2, 2020 8:42:26 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/karnataka/sec-can-take-decision-as-per-law-on-issue-of-holding-polls-to-5800-gps-hc/article32933266.ece

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