NEW DELHI: In what could be termed as a big win for the Andhra Pradesh Government, the Supreme Court on Wednesday issued directions to the State Election Commission to lift the Model Code of Conduct in the State of Andhra Pradesh and directed that the welfare schemes and programmes to continue in the State.
The Supreme Court also said that it was imperative for the SEC to consult the State Government before taking the decision of postponement of elections.
The directions were issued by the Supreme Court on Wednesday after it heard the plea filed by the Andhra Pradesh government on Monday challenging the State Election Commission's order postponing elections to rural and urban local bodies for six weeks while a private petition was also filed in the High Court on the same issue, official sources said. The government petition was listed in the apex court on Tuesday.
The government in its petition brought to the Supreme Court's notice that the Model Code of Conduct, which continued in the state in the wake of the postponement of the elections, was hindering the welfare schemes undertaken by the State government.
Taking cognizance of this, the Supreme Court bench found fault with the SEC's decision in postponing the elections. The bench also raised objections over the SEC for not conducting due consultations with the State Government officials which was imperative by the SEC to do so before pronouncing the postponement of elections.
In its directions, the Supreme Court ordered the Model Code of Conduct to be lifted and state should continue development programs as usual.
The Supreme Court also questioned the SEC as to how it could impose an indefinite model code of conduct without a setting a date for the elections. In its order the Bench said the SEC citing the Supreme Court Judgement in the Kishan Singh Tomar Vs The Municipal Corporation of Ahmadabad City rendered in 2006, that elections can be postponed under exceptional circumstances, natural calamities like floods, earthquake till normalcy is restored, was correct. But the SEC also had the responsibility to consult the State Government before taking the decision to halt the elections, it said. The SC rapped the SEC as to what were the objections it had in consulting the State Government for postponing the local body elections.
Chief Secretary Nilam Sawhney earlier wrote to the State Election Commissioner N Ramesh Kumar requesting that the order postponing the polls be revoked and conduct the elections as per the schedule announced earlier.
Elections to mandal parishad and zilla parishad territorial constituencies, the second and the third tier of the panchayat raj system, were originally scheduled to be conducted on March 21. Municipalities and municipal corporations were to go to polls on March 23 while gram panchayat elections were originally slated for March 27 and 29.