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'Creates Hindrance To Proposed Vaccination Programme': Andhra Pradesh High Court Suspends Schedule For Local Body Elections

Akshita Saxena
12 Jan 2021 4:27 PM GMT
Creates Hindrance To Proposed Vaccination Programme: Andhra Pradesh High Court Suspends Schedule For Local Body Elections
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"Decision to conduct elections certainly hampers and create hindrance to mammoth vaccination programme taken up by the Union of India," observed the Andhra Pradesh High Court on Monday. A Single Bench of Justice M Ganga Rao thereby suspended the schedule set by the State Election Commission for conducting local body elections in the State, in the interest of public health. The Judge...

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"Decision to conduct elections certainly hampers and create hindrance to mammoth vaccination programme taken up by the Union of India," observed the Andhra Pradesh High Court on Monday.

A Single Bench of Justice M Ganga Rao thereby suspended the schedule set by the State Election Commission for conducting local body elections in the State, in the interest of public health.

The Judge was presiding over a writ petition filed by the Jagan Mohan Reddy government in Andhra Pradesh.

It was averred that the SEC's order dated January 8, 2021, to conduct the local body elections in four phases on February 5, 9,13, and 17, was based on consideration of material extraneous to record, arbitrary and irrational rejection of the views of the government, and on surmises, conjectures, and assumptions, vitiated by malice in law.

In its order, the High Court observed that the SEC issued the impugned order without preceded by any pragmatic decision, based on the decisional consultation with the state government, as mandated by the Supreme Court.

It referred to the Top Court's verdict in State of Andhra Pradesh v. Andhra Pradesh State Election Commission, Writ Petition (Civil) No.437 of 2020, where the SEC was directed to hold a post decisional consultation with the State of Andhra Pradesh before the next date is notified by the Election Commission.

On this note, the Court observed that the SEC had failed to consider the inputs supplied by the government objectively, in its proper perspective. It noted that if permitted, the present election schedule will certainly hamper the vaccination programme taken up by the Union of India, which is to be implemented by the State Government to contain the Covid-19 and its mutation.

It thus held that the impugned decision is vitiated by arbitrariness, is violative of Article 14 and 21 of the Constitution of India, and needs to be set aside in the interest of public health.

Advocate General Sri Sriram and Standing Counsel N Ashwani Kumar appeared for the State. Assistant Solicitor General N Harinath represented the Central government.

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In May last year, the High Court struck down an Ordinance promulgated by the Andhra government to curtail the tenure of the State Election Commissioner from five to three years.

"Ordinance brought only to appoint SEC of CM's choice, that too a former High Court judge which is against Constitutional Morality," the Supreme Court had remarked during the hearing.

Also Read: SC Issues Notice On AP Govt Challenge Against HC Order Quashing Ordinance On State Election Commissioner; Refuses Stay

Case Title: State of Andhra Pradesh v. State Election Commission & Ors.

Click Here To Download Order

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