A day after the Andhra Pradesh Legislative Assembly passed a resolution opposing conduct of elections to local bodies, the State Election Commissioner N Ramesh Kumar on Saturday wrote to Governor Biswabhusan Harichandan, saying it was against the spirit of the Constitution. Asserting that the State Election Commission was an autonomous institution as per Article 243K of the Constitution, Ramesh Kumar said conducting elections to local bodies was its responsibility.
The Election Commission of India and the State Election Commission enjoyed similar powers, he noted. The state Assembly on Friday hit out at the SEC for seeking to conduct elections to the local bodies amid the COVID-19 pandemic and passed a resolution stating that the present situation in the state was not conducive for elections in February 2021.
It said an unseemly situation has arisen in the state where the “unilateralism of the SEC" has been noticed even by the Supreme Court of India, which directed that further decisions after the initial postponement of elections shall be in consultation with the state (government). “While the assembly recognises with respect the independence of the constitutional bodies specifically conferred with powers, it notes that unilateral decisions without considering bonafide concerns of the elected government would be inconsistent with the constitutional scheme," the resolution said.
The House also resolved that suitable legal provisions be incorporated in the AP Panchayat Raj Act, 1994, and consequent rules to handle such situations. Reacting to this, the SEC, in his letter, impressed upon the Governor that the call for holding the elections with the consent of the state government was against the spirit of the Constitution.
Ramesh Kumar also sought to preempt the Jagan Mohan Reddy governments move to amend the AP Panchayat Raj Act, 1994, requesting the Governor to reject any such prospective Ordinance. He urged the Governor to seek counsel, if required, from legal experts of the Supreme Court on the issue.