The Bombay High Court on Tuesday came down upon the Goa government for postponing elections to 186 Panchayats in the State, noting that such defiance to comply with Constitutional mandate to hold elections have become a regular feature [Sandeep Vazarkar v. State of Goa & Ors.]..A bench of Justices MS Sonak and RN Laddha noted that it was the fourth instance in the last two decades when the State Government and the State Election Commission (SEC) have failed to comply with the constitutional mandate under Article 243E to hold Panchayat elections. “This is the fourth instance in the last two decades when the State Government and the SEC have avoided or failed to comply with the constitutional mandate in Article 243E. The delay and consequent defiance of the constitutional mandate have become a regular feature," the judgment said. The attempt, the Court said, is to bring about a situation of fait accompli, emboldened by the fact that not even the most powerful court can turn the clock back or recoup the lost time."There are no reported instances of any action against those responsible for the defiant breaches of the constitutional mandate. In most instances, the SEC would meekly toe the line of the State Government and plead helplessness,” the Bench observed.In view of the above, quashed the decision of State of Goa to postpone elections to 186 panchayats in the State and directed the Pramod Sawant government to ensure that the elections are held and completed within 45 days.The Court further directed the State government to issue a notification under the Election Procedure Rules within 3 days, fixing a date for holding elections to the panchayats, whose terms had expired or are due to expire shortly.The Bench clarified that the State government shall confer with the State Election Commission to come up with a date for holding elections.“The State Government and the SEC must ensure that the elections are held and completed no later than 45 days from today,” the Bench ruled..The issue that arose before the Court was that the term of 186 village panchayats ended on June 18 this year.Goa State Election Commission (SEC) had proposed to hold elections from May to June, however they were held back because the State government had not issued notification under the Goa Panchayat and Zilla Panchayat (Election Procedure) Rules appointing a date for holding elections..The SEC maintained their eagerness to conduct the elections and assured the Court of completing the entire process within 30 days of the State notification.The State meanwhile insisted that elections in monsoon were not conducive and hence the State had taken a “conscious decision” to hold the same in September of this year.Advocate General Devidas Pangam argued that since the power to appoint a date for holding the elections is vested in the State Government, the State Government's opinion and perception about the appropriate date for holding of such election will have to be respected..The question which the Court set to determine was whether the State government and the SEC was avoiding elections under the Article 243E of the Constitution.Article 243E states that the panchayat shall have a term of 5 yearsand the elections for the next term shall be completed before expiry of the previous term..Pangam argued that monsoon could affect the voter turnout and render the democracy a casualty.The Court, however, agreed with the contention that monsoons, even if a yearly feature in Goa, could not be elevated to the level of a natural calamity."If the State Government was indeed serious about holding the polls in terms of Article 243-E, then nothing prevented the State Government from issuing the necessary Notification under Rule 10 of the Election Procedure Rules”, the Court observed.It came down upon the State for defying Article 243E and ordered that elections be held within 45 days.