The Andhra Pradesh High Court on Monday suspended the schedule announced by the State Election Commission (SEC) for conducting the gram panchayat elections in four phases in February, observing it would hamper the COVID-19 vaccination programme.The Andhra Pradesh government on Saturday challenged the SEC's decision to hold panchayat elections and also moved a 'House Motion petition' in the High Court demanding that the poll process be stalled, citing the vaccination programme,to be taken up from January 16. SEC on Friday overruled the objections raised by CM YS Jagan Mohan Reddy-led state government and had announced the schedule for the gram panchayat elections which would be held in 4 phases on February 5, 9, 13 and 17.
The High Court observed that the gram panchayat elections would hamper the coronavirus vaccination programme and, as such, suspended the SEC orders "in the interests of public health". "The SEC has not objectively considered the view of the government and has approached the subject matter in its own domain," a vacation bench of the court said.
Earlier, Panchayat Raj Principal Secretary G K Dwivedi had said in a statement, "The SEC has adamantly announced the poll schedule without considering the state governments views. It is a brazen display of arrogance of power."
In a meeting, the Jagan Mohan Reddy-led government had said officials that they were not ready to conduct the elections as the government machinery would be engaged with the administration of the Coronavirus vaccine for at least 8 months and due to this conducting an election would not be possible.
Andhra Pradesh legislative Assembly had passed this resolution by suggesting that the current COVID-19 situation is not conducive for the state to conduct the February 2021 elections amid COVID-19 pandemic. The resolution passed by the state Assembly demanded that EC should add certain legal provisions in the Andhra Pradesh Panchayat Raj Act 1994 and successive rules to manage public health issues should be introduced.