VIJAYAWADA: State Election Commissioner Nimmagadda Ramesh Kumar on Tuesday informed the High Court that the SEC is prepared to conduct elections to local bodies. He told the court that the SEC postponed the local body elections in March in view of the spread of coronavirus. As the number of Covid-19 cases has come down in the State in recent weeks, it is ready to conduct the local body polls. He filed a counter informing the preparedness of the SEC to hold the local body elections in response to a petition filed by T Yogesh, a lawyer who sought court directions to conduct the local body polls in the State as polls are being held in several States.
Nimmagadda informed the court that the State government should extend its full cooperation to the SEC and stressed need for enhancing security to him as well as the commission. Stating that a meeting was already held with representatives of all political parties in this regard, he said the SEC decided to take certain precautions while conducting the polls in view of the violence that took place earlier.
The SEC pointed out that there is a shortage of ballot boxes in the State. Ballot boxes need to be brought from other States for the elections. Telangana could not give ballot boxes to AP as it is conducting elections to municipalities and efforts to get ballot boxes from other Southern States have failed to yield results, Nimmagadda said and added that the schedule will be released for the elections to local bodies in phases as and when the SEC gets ballot boxes in sufficient numbers.
Nimmagadda further mentioned that all the political parties have requested the SEC to conduct the local body elections by taking necessary precautions in view of coronavirus. The Chief Secretary of the State, during a meeting with the SEC, had orally informed about the possible second wave of Covid-19, he said in his counter.
Earlier, the High Court directed the State government to cooperate with the SEC in its functioning and directed the Chief Secretary to submit a report on implementation of its orders within 15 days. The court also wondered as to how State Election Commissioner Nimmagadda Ramesh Kumar wants his residence in Hyderabad in Telangana to be considered as his official residence.
Justice B Devanand, who heard Nimmagadda’s plea to direct the State government to cooperate with him in conducting the elections to local bodies, passed his orders on Tuesday. Observing that the government is not responding to the pleas of the SEC properly, the High Court said it should not forget that constitutional institutions remain forever while those who are holding the post of the office are temporary.
Justice Devanand said the SEC does not work under the control of the State government and it is an autonomous body. There is an every need for the government to extend its cooperation to the SEC for its smooth functioning, Justice Devanand said, and asked the SEC to submit a representation to the government pertaining to what kind of financial and non-financial support it needs.
The court directed the Chief Secretary to implement its orders and submit a report within 15 days.
Justice Devanand expressed dismay as to how Nimmagadda, who has to discharge his duties as the SEC in Andhra Pradesh, can request that his residence in Hyderabad be treated as official residence. There is an every need for the SEC to work within the framework of law, the High Court Judge said.