The Supreme Court on Monday dismissed a petition filed by the Andhra Pradesh government and made way for panchayat elections to be conducted in the state as per the notification issued by the state election commission.
The state government had filed a petition in the top court challenging the Andhra Pradesh High Court's order to allowing the elections to be held per schedule. A two-judge bench comprising Justices Sanjay Kushan Kaul and Hrishikesh Roy heard the plea.
Senior advocate Mukul Rohatgi, representing the state government, told the court that the local elections had been postponed in several states, including Goa, due to the ongoing coronavirus situation. He argued that police personnel had been deployed in Covid-19 vaccination drives. "It is estimated that five lakh personnel have will be required for security during the vaccination drives and the state government has to be careful in this regard," Rohatgi said.
After the hearing, Justice Kaul said, "It is the duty of the Election Commission to hold elections. There is no reason for the court to interfere in this matter. Is there no election going on anywhere in the country? Something is looking to stop the election and giving coronavirus vaccination as the reason. It is part of the political process."
After the Supreme Court ruling, the SEC has rescheduled the elections. According to a previously announced schedule, the second phase was changed to the first phase, the third phase to the second phase, the fourth phase to the third phase and the first phase to the fourth phase.
Originally, the elections were to be held on February 5, 9, 13 and 17. After the latest changes, polling will be held on February 9, 13, 17 and 21.
The nominations will be received from January 29 for the first phase, from February 2 for the second phase, from February 6 for the third phase and from the 10 for the fourth phase.