Terming the decision taken by the state government to hold panchayat elections on June 25 as illegal, autocratic and dictatorial, Goa Pradesh Congress Committee (GPCC) president Luizinho Faleiro on Thursday demanded that panchayat polls be held as per the date recommended by the State Election Commission (SEC).
“Holding election in the month of June is against law and it will not be convenient for the people because it will be monsoon season and many will be busy in the fields. Congress party demands that panchayat elections should be held in mid-May as per the law of Goa and as per the Constitution of India,” said Faleiro.
Speaking to media persons after handing over a representation to SEC, Faleiro said that it is the prerogative of the SEC to regulate and conduct the elections as per the laws laid down in the Goa Panchayati Raj Act.
He claimed that the government has no role to play in finalising the date of the election and the authority only remains with the SEC.
SEC Commissioner R K Srivastava said that until Thursday morning he was unaware of the election date which was finalised and announced by the state government, he said that it was through media that he came to know about the panchayat election date.
However, responding to Faleiro’s claim, Srivastava said that certain clause in the Panchayati Raj Act empowers the state government to take a final call on the election date.
“The commission had given a proposal to the government in the month of January 2017 for appointing a date as deciding the date is the prerogative of the government as per Panchayati Raj Act and since the tenure was expiring on May 27, we recommended that election should be held on the Sunday just presiding that date on May 21,” said Srivastava.
Srivastava informed Faleiro that a Public Interest Litigation (PIL) has been filed in this regard which also include issues related to delimitation of wards and reservation of wards. He said that he would not be able to comment as the matter is sub-judice.
“The Act is not in consonance as the superintendent’s direction and control of holding election of Panchayat rests entirely with the SEC as per the constitutional provisions but Panchayati Raj Act gives some power to the government to decide the date for holding the election that power perhaps is under challenge in the High Court as this is not in constitutional provisions,” he explained.
Srivastava informed that SEC is in the process of drafting the affidavit in response to the PIL which will be soon filed before the High Court.
Faleiro urged Srivastava to see to it that the government does not interference in the panchayat polls and to make sure that the government should not supersede the authority and powers of the SEC.