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The Supreme Court today found no reason to interfere with the decision taken by the Election Commission (EC) to postpone local body elections in Andhra Pradesh on account of the Coronavirus outbreak.
The Bench of Chief Justice of India SA Bobde and Justices BR Gavai and Surya Kant held that the EC's decision to postpone the polls by six weeks on account of the COVID-19 outbreak did not need to be interfered with.The poll bodyu contested the maintainability of the writ filed by the State with Senior Counsel Shekhar Naphade questioning the locus to move the Apex Court under Article 32.
The State of Andhra Pradesh had challenged the notification of the EC declaring that the polls be held after six weeks from the scheduled date.
The EC had contested the maintainability of the writ filed by the State, with Senior Counsel Shekhar Naphade questioning its locus to move the Apex Court under Article 32.
The Court ultimately held,
It was pointed out on behalf of the State that while the polls stood deferred, the Model Code of Conduct (MCC) remained imposed, and this led to the temporary stalling of the development work that was going on.
ASG ANS Nadkarni, appearing for the State, argued that it would not be justified for the MCC to remain imposed when the election itself was postponed.
The Court, agreeing with this submission, directed the Eelction Commission to lift the imposition of the MCC and reimpose the same four weeks prior to when the poll dates are notified.
Further, the Court said that it did not wish to go into the question of maintainability of the plea. It thus passed the following direction:
"We direct that since the Election Commission has already taken the decision to postpone the Elections, there shall be a post decisional consultation with the State of Andhra Pradesh before the next date is notified by the Election Commission. The Model Code of Conduct for the elections shall be reimposed four weeks before the date of polling."
It further added that development activities that were suspended on account of the MCC shall not be interrupted further until the Code is reimposed again after notification of new poll dates.
However, the Court made it clear that the if state government wishes to undertake any fresh developmental activities, it shall do so only with the prior permission of the Election Commission. It further held,
With these observations and directions, the matter was disposed of.