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Supreme Court Refuses To Entertain PC George MLA's Plea To Postpone Kerala Local Body Polls

Radhika Roy
7 Dec 2020 8:46 AM GMT
Supreme Court Refuses To Entertain PC George MLAs Plea To Postpone Kerala Local Body Polls
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The Supreme Court on Monday refused to entertain a petition filed by Kerala MLA PC George seeking the postponement of local body polls in the State scheduled to start from tomorrow.A Bench headed by Justice L. Nageswara Rao heard the matter and informed the Advocate for the Petitioner, Adolf Mathew, that the Apex Court would not be entertaining the matter. Mathew submitted to the Court...

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The Supreme Court on Monday refused to entertain a petition filed by Kerala MLA PC George seeking the postponement of local body polls in the State scheduled to start from tomorrow.

A Bench headed by Justice L. Nageswara Rao heard the matter and informed the Advocate for the Petitioner, Adolf Mathew, that the Apex Court would not be entertaining the matter.

Mathew submitted to the Court that he was not on the postponement of the election, but wanted to inform the Bench that the State Election Commission had not complied with the new law promulgated by the Government of India.

"There is a notification with Rule 27A which has been amended and states that COVID-19 patients and senior citizens above the age of 65 years can vote in elections vide postal ballot", submitted Mathew.

The Supreme Court was, however, not inclined to hear the matter and allowed the Petitioner to withdraw the plea.

MLA PC George had earlier approached the Kerala High Court challenging the decision of Election Commission contending that the conduct of local body elections in the State of Kerala, in the present health scenario would be violative of citizen's fundamental right guaranteed under Article 21 of the Constitution of India. He had also sought a direction from the court to defer elections to the local bodies, in the light of COVID-19 situation in Kerala.

The High Court dismissed the petition.

Referring to the proceedings issued by the State Election Commission, the Bench comprising the Chief Justice S. Manikumar and Justice Shaji P. Chaly noted that it had taken note of COVID-19 pandemic situation in Kerala, views expressed by the Director of Health Services, Government of Kerala, the political parties, mandate of the Constitution of India contained in Article 243-U.

The Court also extensively referred to a recent judgment of Patna High Court in Badri Narayan Singh v. The Ministry of Home Affairs, Government of India which had dismissed pleas seeking for a direction to the Election Commission for the postponement of the impending Bihar Assembly Elections 2020. It was held therein that the ultimate decision on when to hold elections lies with the Commission and it cannot be assumed that the Election Commission has taken/or would take its decision without considering the prevailing situation.

The Court said that the proceedings issued by the Election Commission thus could not be held to be arbitrary, warranting interference. While dismissing the petition, the court observed:

"We are of the view that the Constitution of India is Supreme, and every decision of an authority under any Act, in the case on hand, the State Election Commission, should be, in accordance with the Constitutional mandate."

"Merely because there is a rise in the number of cases reported for COVID-19 subsequently, in particular, between 01.10.2020 to 31.10.2020, it cannot be contended that the State Election Commission has not considered the gravity and impact of COVID-19 cases. True that there is no indication by any of the authorities, including the Central Government or the authorities under the Disaster Management Act, 2005, as to when there would be an end to COVID-19 pandemic. But, that alone cannot be a ground, either to declare that the decision of the State Election Commission, to hold the elections, mandated as per the Constitutional provisions, as invalid or to issue any direction to the 2nd respondent to postpone the elections.


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