HYDERABAD: Finding fault with the Andhra Pradesh government in its failure to conduct elections to gram panchayats and instead appointing of special officers to panchayats, the Hyderabad High Court on Tuesday directed the state government to conduct panchayat polls in the next three months.
While declaring the decision to appoint special officers as unconstitutional as well as unilateral, the Court set aside the government order (GO) no. 90 dated Aug 1, 2018. However, it allowed continuation of special officers till conduct of elections. The Court further directed to speed up the process of enumeration of backward classes population, finalisation of SC, ST, BC and women reservations.
The order was passed in the petition filed by former sarpanches M Ramakrishna Reddy and three others against the state government for not conducting panchayat elections and pleading suspension of the appointed special officers.
Petitioners’ counsel, Ravi Cheemalapati, submitted that the terms of previous panchayat elections ended on August 1, 2018. Instead of conducting fresh elections the government appointed special officers. Even the state election commission has not questioned the government in this regard, he stated.
After hearing the case, the court stated that both the state government and election commission are duty-bound to conduct elections before completion of five years term under Article 243. They could seek exemption only in case of natural calamities and since there was no such situation in AP there was no reason for postponing the elections.
Reacting to the court’s direction to his government, Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister N Chandrababu Naidu told media on the sidelines of inaugration of Fintech Festival in Visakhapatnam, that they are ready to conduct panchayat elections, but as the reservation issue is now pending in the court, they will conduct the polls only once the issue gets solved.