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MP Election Commission rules out early civic polls; makes submission in High Court

‘Decision on polls only after review of COVID-19 third wave possibility’

evms Representational image | File

The possibility of civic polls being conducted in Madhya Pradesh in near future has been ruled out with the State Election Commission submitting in MP High Court that no decision on the elections have been taken yet, and it would be done in consultation with the government only after reviewing ground situation on COVID-19 and the chances of the third wave of the pandemic.

The advocate of State Election Commission, Siddharth Seth, made this submission before the division bench of justices Prakash Shrivastava and Virender Singh, who were hearing a petition filed by the Jabalpur-based Nagarik Upbhokta Margdarshak Manch. The petition was disposed of after the SEC submission.

The petition had demanded immediate stopping of the process of civic polls in the state in view of the pandemic situation. The petition was based on a meeting of the SEC on July 15 where the possibility of holding civic polls in the state was discussed.

However, during the hearing on Tuesday, the SEC counsel submitted in the court that the commission was in consultation with the experts regarding the COVID-19 pandemic situation and the possibility of a third wave in August-September. The counsel said it was only after the situation on this count was clear that a decision on the polls will be taken in consultation with the state government.

The SEC counsel also submitted that the issue of reservation and delimitation of seats in various parts of the state was also pending in the High Court and this was a matter of jurisdiction of the state government. Therefore, it will be only after the final orders of the HC in this matter and the consequent guidelines of the state government that initiation of poll process will be possible.

“The submission of the SEC counsel was recorded by the court, and taking into consideration the fact that the commission itself was not preparing to hold the elections, the division bench disposed of the matter,” Dinesh Upadhayay, counsel to the petitioners, told THE WEEK.

Of the total 407 civic bodies in the state, the tenure of 307 came to an end on September 25, 2020. Tenure of several more came to an end in January and February 2021. Similarly the tenure of panchs, sarpanchs, Janpad members and district panchayat members (under the three-layer panchayat system) across the state ended in March 2021. In normal circumstances, the elections to these local bodies should have been completed before the end of the tenure of the current bodies. However the polls have remained deferred due to the COVID-19 pandemic situation.

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