Telangana High Court raps State Election Commission for going ahead with ULB polls

Telangana High Court
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Telangana High Court

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Hyderabad: Chief Justice Hima Kohli and Justice Bollam Vijaysen Reddy lambasted the Telangana State Election Commission and asked it whether the it was...

Hyderabad: Chief Justice Hima Kohli and Justice Bollam Vijaysen Reddy lambasted the Telangana State Election Commission and asked it whether the it was living in a bubble when the entire State was reeling under Covid second wave.

The court questioned the State Election Commission (SEC) as to why it didn't stall the elections for the two municipal corporations and five municipalities in the State or put them off as it had the power to do so keeping in view the surge in Covid cases in the State and the country.

The Chief Justice opined that by taking such a decision, the SEC and the State government had put the lives of thousands of voters, 7,695 government staff and 2,557 police personnel at risk.

Even though the police personnel were frontline warriors and might have taken both doses of vaccine, they were still susceptible to the infection, observed the CJ.

When State Election Commissioner Ashok Kumar informed the court that these elections were only confined and restricted to two municipal corporations and five municipalities, the CJ read out the number of active cases in the districts and questioned him as to how SEC could put the lives of voters as well as the police and the polling staff at risk despite the surge.

Despite this fact, the SEC went and issued notification for elections, held training programmes for polling staff and deputed police for election duties, the CJ noted, questioning the State Election Commission as why they had kept the post of Mayor of Hyderabad city vacant for more than one-and-half years, when it felt it was necessary to hold elections to the restrictive five municipalities and two municipal corporations, that too in the testing times like these?

"There must be a logic to it why the Mayor post was kept vacant. On whose hands the blood be smeared on?" commented the CJ.

Terming the polls as a deliberate decision, she said that the entire State machinery was pressed into service for performing pre-election work, rather than put to other tasks in containing spread of coronavirus.

"The Telangana SEC has really botched up the entire situation in the State as the number of Covid positive cases in Warangal, Achampet, Rangareddy, Mahbubnagar and Nagarkurnool has seen the highest spurt," she said.

"Are we not waging a war against the Covid? Why is that the State Election Commission did not halt the process of elections in March 2021 instead of writing to the Telangana government seeking its assistance for conducting municipal elections?.

Why is it (SEC) in such a hurry and scurry in holding elections when the State is going through rough times? It is the statutory duty of the SEC to halt the polls and nowhere, it has said that it will halt the elections," the CJ commented, questioning that were the officials of the SEC were living in a bubble?

He asked how the SEC would justify its decision in holding the elections when people were losing their lives to Covid-19.

The bench adjourned the batch of PILs to May 5 and further directed the State government to inform as to what decision it was going to take once the night curfew ends on April 30.

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