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Can EC relax code for relief in J&K, asks SC

Supreme Court of India. Photo: V. Sudersha  

Noting that the declaration of the Assembly elections in flood-ravaged Jammu and Kashmir has left its hands tied, the Supreme Court on Friday said it wanted to know whether the Election Commission could consider relaxing the Model Code of Conduct in the State so that essential relief could be distributed to stranded victims.

A three-judge Bench headed by Chief Justice of India H.L. Dattu sought to know why political parties and the Omar Abdullah government did not put the requirements of the victims first and ask the Centre to postpone the elections.

The Bench was hearing a PIL petition filed on behalf of the flood victims.

Chief Justice Dattu said the court could not ignore the code of conduct and order the State government to distribute flood relief.

Senior advocate Colin Gonsalves, representing the flood victims, submitted that the situation had become a question of life and death with winter fast approaching.

“The flood victims want elementary things like food, water... these people are not worried about code of conduct. The temperatures are falling...” Mr. Gonsalves said.

Chief Justice Dattu assured counsel that the court shared the concerns of the victims. It permitted the PIL petitioners to implead the Election Commission as a party so that the court could directly ask it whether there is any possibility to relax the code.

The court slammed the Omar government on its performance during and after the floods.

“You are the State... You should have taken care of your people,” Chief Justice Dattu told State counsel.

The court said this after studying an October 9 status report filed by a Supreme Court-appointed committee, which detailed the failures of the State government — from not evacuating people residing in vulnerable areas to leaving the victims to “fend for themselves” with hardly any food or drinking water.

The committee, set up to conduct an independent evaluation of the ground situation in the State, recorded the “intense anguish and resentment” of the survivors.

“Have you seen this report? You really should feel bad,” the CJI said.

The Bench has posted the case for November 7.

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Printable version | Jun 23, 2021 12:34:44 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/other-states/can-election-commission-relax-code-for-relief-in-jk-asks-supreme-court/article6553252.ece

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