The Andhra Pradesh High Court on Tuesday announced that it has stayed the Mandal and Zilla parishad elections across the state, set to take place on April 8. The High Court made the ruling based on petitions filed against the ruling YSRCP by the opposition Telugu Desam Party (TDP), Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and Jana Sena Party (JSP) against the State Election Commission’s notification announcing the election date. The petitioners claim that they were not consulted before the date for the election was announced.
The High Court order to stay the Mandal Parishad Territorial Constituency (MPTC) and Zilla Parishad Territorial Constituency (ZPTC) elections was issued on Tuesday by Justice U Durgaprasad Rao, who heard the petition for three days straight. The judge had reserved his order on Monday. The counsel for the SEC, CV Mohan Reddy, had argued that the Commission has the powers to modify or renotify the election process as per Rule 7 of Andhra Pradesh Panchayath Raj election conduct rules. He also reminded the court about the Supreme Court’s orders to resume the election process, which was stalled last year due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Representing the government, advocate C Suman had told the court that there was a need to complete polls at the earliest, as the government was making plans to intensify the COVID-19 vaccination drive in light of a surge in cases in the state.
Arguing on behalf of the petitioners, senior counsels P Veera Reddy and Vedula Venkata Ramana said that the SEC notification for the election to be held on April 8 was issued without consulting political parties. The TDP had even announced that they would not contest the elections.
On April 3, the TDP expressed doubts about the hasty manner in which the Election Commission, headed by Neelam Sawhney in the state, issued the MPTC and ZPTC election notification on the day she was appointed. The TDP had threatened to boycott the election if the matter was not addressed.