AMARAVATI: The State Election Commission (SEC) has filed an appeal before the Andhra Pradesh High Court challenging the judgment of the Single Judge on May 21 ordering the MPTC and ZPTC Elections which were cancelled and have them resume at the stage from where they were stalled in the past. The HC had cancelled the MPTC and ZPTC elections held on April 8 in AP and the SEC in its petition sought for the orders of the Single Judge to be quashed.
It may be recollected that the SEC had issued a notification on April 1 for the Parishad elections for the Mandal Parishad Territorial Constituencies (MPTC) and Zilla Parishad Territorial Constituencies (ZPTC) to be resumed after they were postponed on March 15, 2020, due to the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic. Although the elections for panchayats and urban local bodies were completed in March, the Parishad elections had to wait.
The SEC resumed the MPTC, ZPTC elections and successfully conducted them on April 8 after several litigations in the High Court with due adherence to the COVID protocol. The Single bench in its order cancelled the MPTC and ZPTC Elections and had directed the State Election Commission (SEC) to issue fresh notification and conduct the elections again after the COVID cases subside.
A bench headed by Chief Justice of the AP High Court Justice Arup Kumar Goswami will hear the appeal on Friday.
The SEC in its petition reported that the Single Judge in his judgment referred to matters unrelated to the case, citing international treaties and judgments, which were beyond the scope of the case. The SEC said that nowhere in its petition did the Jana Sena Party mention the rule about the 4- weeks’ notice period to be implemented before the date of the election in its petition, but the single judge went ahead and cancelled the polls on that basis. The single judge had dismissed the same petition filed by TDP’s Vorla Ramaiah who had asked for the rule to be enforced in advance. This apart there were a number of contradictions in the verdict rendered.
The Single Judge allegedly made comments about the SEC interfering in the election process. The Election Commissioner stated that the SEC would also perform duties in the same way as the High Court functions independently as a constitutional body. The SEC sought for the personal remarks made by the single judge to be removed from the judgment.
The Single Judge said that the term of local bodies had expired in 2018-19 and that it was the responsibility of the Election Commission to hold elections as soon as possible. The Supreme Court had said in its orders that it was a local body election but did not specify whether it was MPTC, ZPTC, and Gram Panchayat separately. Therefore, the implementation of the 4-week electoral code applies to all elections jointly. So the argument that the MPTC and ZPTC did not implement the four-week norm for elections is invalid in this case.
The SEC further explained that the Supreme Court had on several occasions ruled that it should not interfere in the election process once it had started and that the Single Judge had acted contrary to this while cancelling the elections. The single judge had also not taken into account the fact that Rs 150 Crore of public money was spent on the conduct of the elections the SEC stated in its petition.