Preparation for polls in full swing, Kerala election panel tells court

Will decide date after consultations, panel says in response to postponement plea

The State Election Commission (SEC) on Monday informed the Kerala High Court that the commission would take a call on the date and schedule of the local body elections after deliberations with stakeholders and after assessing all the inputs received.

In fact, it was yet to fix the programme of the election and no notification for the polls had been issued, the commission said in a statement before the court. The statement was filed in response to a writ petition seeking a directive to the commission to postpone the local body elections.

The preparations for holding elections were in full swing. The election machinery had been alerted so as to be in a state of readiness for the timely holding of elections, the commission added.

Before Nov. 11

The term of the present panchayats at all levels, municipalities (except Mattannur municipality) and municipal corporations would expire on November 11, 2020. The election to constitute local bodies would have to be held before November 11 so that the new members could assume office by November 12.

The commission pointed out that the High Court had earlier dismissed a public interest litigation seeking a directive not to conduct the elections till the COVID-19 pandemic was brought under control.

The petition

In his petition, Muhammed Rafi of Malappuram said that peopleโ€™s participation in local body elections was very high when compared to Assembly and Parliamentary elections. Restrictions imposed to contain COVID-19 would be flouted during election campaigns. That might result in a grave situation. Besides, a large number of people were either in hospitals or in quarantine and would not be able to vote. In such a situation, it would not be a free and fair election. So, the election should be postponed in public interest, the petitioner contended.

The court adjourned hearing on the petition to September 14.

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