Hyderabad: The Telangana High Court on Monday directed the State Election Commission (SEC) and the state government to explain their stand by Tuesday on a petition challenging the circular issued for stopping of disbursement of Rs 10,000 ex-gratia to flood-affected persons in the GHMC limits.
The direction was given by a division Bench comprising Chief Justice Raghavendra Singh Chauhan and Justice B. Vijaysen Reddy which was dealing with a urgent petition by S. Sharath Kumar, who said the orders banning provision of flood relief were is ultra vires of the power vested with the SEC.
His contention was that under the Model Code of Conduct (MCC) there were exemptions to provide the ex-gratia when unforeseen natural calamities strike. Emergency services can be deployed and welfare schemes and rehabilitation continued even during the elections. The model code of conduct (MCC) of the Election of Commission of India (ECI) exempts such situations of calamity, counsel explained to the court.
When SEC counsel Vidyasagar objected and informed the court that the exemptions given by the ECI were not adopted by the SEC, Sharat Kumar said that the MCC does not have statutory backing. They were rules meant to lay down guidelines to political parties to maintain ethics, counsel said.
The MCC rules are applicable to the SECs and they do not have separate rules, Sharat Kumar’s counsel said. As per the ECI, when the state is reeling under any exigency, ex gratia money can be disbursed by the government to the victims under intimation to the ECI. The discretionary power used by the SEC to suddenly stop ex gratia payment without consultation with the authorities left the victims in confusion, counsel said.
The bench issued notices to the Chief Secretary, SEC and the principal secretary, home, to file affidavits explaining their stand by Tuesday.