The Karnataka High Court recently directed the State government to give reasons justifying its stand to postpone the local body elections till December 2021..A Division Bench of Chief Justice Abhay Shreeniwas Oka and Justice NS Sanjay Gowda asked the rationale behind keeping religious places open while deferring elections citing COVID pandemic."If religious places are kept open and people can go there in queue, can’t they come to polling booths? This is the only state not to abide by the Constitutional mandate," the Bench said..If religious places are kept open and people can go there in queue, can’t they come to polling boothsKarnataka High Court.The Court had, in 2020, registered a case suo motu after noticing that local body elections were not being held as per the mandate of Clause (3) of Article 243 (U) of the Constitution..On May 17, a decision was taken by the State government to postpone elections to zilla, taluk panchayats and other municipal bodies beyond December 31, 2021 owing to COVID-19 pandemic. .The Court had further opined that COVID situation has improved since the Cabinet decision. The Court further reminded that even Assembly polls were conducted during the pandemic.."Prima facie, the government’s decision does not bind the State Election Commission (SEC), a constitutional authority duty bound to conduct time bound elections," the Court added. .During the hearing on August 4, the government advocate informed the Court of the State government’s decision to postpone elections to all local bodies, including urban local bodies, till December 2021. .In this regard, the State also requested the SEC to defer the polls. As the hearing progressed, Senior Advocate KN Phanindra, representing the SEC, submitted that all deputy commissioners are ready for elections and a meeting was also held on July 28, 2021 to discuss the same. The Court then proceeded to ask the State government to justify its stance in postponing elections. .The matter will be next heard on August 13.