CUTTACK: In a significant judgment, the Orissa High Court on Friday upheld the State Election Commission (SEC) order prohibiting sarpanch and ward member candidates from associating with political parties during the ongoing panchayat polls.
The single-judge bench of Justice S K Mishra dismissed the writ petition filed by sarpanch candidate from Mithrapur GP of Nilagiri in Balasore district Hiramani Singh challenging the order as unilateral. Justice Mishra had issued an interim stay on the SEC order on Wednesday while admitting the petition. He had completed hearing on the case on Thursday, but reserved his order. With rejection of the petition, the interim stay automatically stands vacated.
Delivering the judgment, Justice Mishra held that there was no infirmity in the circular issued by the SEC and the situation therein does not affect any fundamental right of a candidate in any manner.
He further ruled that the intention of the legislation of Gram Panchayat Act was that the election at the grassroots level should be above party politics.
The petitioner had challenged the SEC order stating that no decision on banning candidates for associating themselves with political parties was taken at the all-party meeting on December 23, 2011. The meeting was held for preparation of code of conduct. Thus, candidates had prepared posters and campaign material using party symbols and photographs of leaders. And with the prohibition imposed, they suffered huge losses.