VIJAYAWADA: Andhra Pradesh High Court has set aside State Election Commission’s order to review unanimous elections to MPTCs and ZPTCs and directed the SEC to declare their results immediately.
A single judge bench headed by Justice D. V. S. S. Somayajulu heard a batch of petitions on Tuesday filed against the commission’s order directing district collectors to inquire into cases of forced withdrawal of nominations by MPTC, ZPTC contestants through coercion and threats.
The High Court directed that the election of such candidates, whose announcement has been held back, shall be immediately declared / certified as per Rule 16 and Rules 62 to 64 under Conduct of Election Rules, 2006. The court observed that it would be open for opponents of these candidates to file appropriate proceedings in the court / tribunal constituted under law.
Though the court appreciated the endeavour of SEC for its efforts to curb intimidation, it observed that the commission does not have the power to interfere and set aside the election.
The court further said such power is given to the election tribunal constituted under the law. The court observed that Rule 66 proviso prohibits SEC from entertaining any complaint till declaration of results. It said neither the commission nor the district collectors can decide on such controversial issues once the election process is over.
Earlier, SEC’s counsel N. Ashwani Kumar maintained that the commission could not be a mute spectator when allegations of fraud and coercion are made.
The counsel said being a constitutional authority, SEC is bound to act.
Senior counsel C. V. Mohan Reddy pointed out that the role of SEC would become functus officio after formal declaration of results is made and it would then have no power to take any action.