AP HC gives nod to conduct gram panchayat polls from February 5


Amaravati: In a setback to the Y S Jagan  Mohan Reddy administration, the Andhra Pradesh High Court on Thursday gave the green signal for the conduct of elections to gram panchayats in four phases from February 5.

The Division Bench of the High Court, headed by Chief Justice Arup Kumar Goswami, struck down the order of a single judge delivered on January 11 suspending the election schedule announced by State Election Commissioner N Ramesh Kumar.

The Division Bench allowed the SEC’s appeal against the single judge’s order and asked the Commission to conduct the gram panchayat elections in a hassle-free manner.

On January 8, the SEC announced the schedule for conduct of elections to gram panchayats in four phases beginning February 5, even as the state government contended that holding elections would not be possible in view of the coronavirus vaccination programme.

Notification for the first phase is scheduled to be issued on January 23.

The state government challenged the SEC’s announcement and Justice M Ganga Rao of the High Court, on January 11, suspended the poll schedule.

The SEC immediately filed an appeal before the Division Bench.

After hearing the arguments of both parties, the Bench on Tuesday reserved the order and delivered it on Thursday.

The state government is now contemplating to move the Supreme Court to get the polls stalled.

Reacting to the Division Bench’s order, SEC Ramesh Kumar said the Commission would conduct the gram panchayat elections as per schedule.

He said the government assured the Court that it would cooperate with the Commission for the smooth conduct of the polls.

A meeting would soon be called with the Chief Secretary, district Collectors and SPs on poll arrangements, Ramesh Kumar added.