VIJAYAWADA: A division bench of the Andhra Pradesh High Court on Wednesday set aside the single-judge order staying MPTC and ZPTC elections slated to be held on Thursday. However, it directed the State Election Commission not to count votes until the writ petition pending before the single-judge was disposed of.
The division bench, comprising Chief Justice Arup Kumar Goswami, and Justice Praveen Kumar issued the interim orders on an appeal filed by the SEC against the single-judge orders. In its ruling, the bench also directed the court registry to ensure that the writ petition before the single-judge comes up for hearing on the scheduled date.
It may be mentioned that a single-judge bench had on Tuesday stayed the MPTC, ZPTC elections on the ground that the SEC had failed to enforce the Model Code of Conduct for four weeks prior to the election day. This interim order was issued on a petition filed by TDP leader Varla Ramaiah.
In its verdict, the division bench pointed out that though Varla Ramaiah’s petition was still unresolved, the single-judge’s interim orders made it look like it was disposed of. It opined that the single-judge’s directive for a new poll notification looked like the final verdict.
The bench further noted that the single-judge, in his ruling, did not take into consideration the fact that the four-week model code was not followed in respect of the panchayat and municipal elections. Besides, the single-judge did not specifically address the question of Varla Ramaiah’s locus standi in the case.
All in all, there are several issues in this case and they must be addressed during the hearing on the writ petition, the bench said and ruled that after taking these into consideration, it was setting aside the single-judge’s orders.
During the hearing, the SEC’s counsel CV Mohan Reddy submitted that the petitioner Varla Ramaiah was not contesting the elections to which the latter’s advocate agreed and claimed the petition was filed in public interest and personal capacity.
Mohan Reddy further informed the bench that SEC has discretionary powers in the matter of model code and added that there was no legal basis for the code in the first place. If four weeks of model code had to be enforced for every election, development will take a back seat, he said. “30 days of model code was not enforced for the local elections held till now...”
TDP leader to move SC
TDP leader Varla Ramaiah, the petitioner in the case, said he will move the Supreme Court to protect democracy. He opined that the division bench’s verdict was against the Apex Court’s directives