Vijayawada: The Andhra Pradesh High Court has allowed the State Election Commission to go ahead with the holding of urban local body polls as per schedule. The court dismissed a batch of petitions challenging the latter’s order to resume the conduct of polls on Friday.
A single judge bench headed by Justice D.V.S.S. Somayajulu heard the batch of petitions.
The court observed that Rule 7 conferred the power to the SEC to modify or alter the election programme for urban local bodies for valid reasons. The prevalence of Covid-19 pandemic and the resultant administrative issues were a valid reason for the SEC to defer the polls.
Moreover, the court said, the SEC was given the responsibility to conduct elections, and hence it was up to it to resume the suspended elections and fulfill its constitutional mandate.
The petitioners challenged the notification issued by the SEC on February 15 to resume the election process for municipal corporations and municipalities/nagara panchayats. The SEC had earlier issued a notification, on March 9 last, for conduct of polls and then deferred them due to the Covid-19 pandemic, on March 15.
Senior counsel Vedula Venkata Ramana argued that the SEC was not having the power, on its own, to either postpone the election or resume the election process.
Advocate general N. Ranga Reddy informed the court that the Supreme Court did not interfere with the postponement of the elections and said the postponed elections would need be resumed in consultation with the state government.
SEC’s counsel Ashwani Kumar said the Supreme Court approved the order of the SEC to resume the deferred the election process.
Earlier, the SEC issued a notification resuming the conduct of elections to 12 municipal corporations and 75 municipalities and nagar panchyats from the time of commencement of withdrawal of nominations on March 2, 2021. Date of polling is March 10 from 7 am to 5 pm and counting on March 14 from 8 am.