HYDERABAD: In a setback to the Telangana government, the High Court on Thursday directed the State Election Commission to take steps for conducting elections to panchayat raj institutions in the state within the next three months, and made it clear that the special officers would be continued till polls are conducted. The term of the local bodies ended on August 1 this year.
“Appointing special officers without conducting elections even after the end of the term of panchayats was against the Constitution. The State government has not cooperated with the Election Commission in the conduct of polls”, the court remarked.
The court also faulted the government for its non-cooperation with the Election Commission in respect of enumeration of backward classes (BC) population, finalization of voters’ list and so on. Justice MS Ramachandra Rao passed this order on a batch of petitions filed by the Telangana Sarpanches Association and some individuals seeking direction to the government and the State Election Commission to hold elections to panchayat bodies.
The petitioners sought suspension of the GOs issued for appointing special officers to panchayats. Some of the petitions were filed with a plea for the continuance of the special officers. On an earlier occasion, the judge had directed the government to first take up the BC enumeration and finalise reservation to BCs in accordance with the Constitution and then decide on conducting polls to panchayats.
On Thursday, the judge pronounced his orders directing the State Election Commission to conduct panchayat polls within three months. He pointed out that the state government had just written a letter to the Election Commission and failed to act further on the issue.
Even the Election Commission failed to discharge its duties properly. In a democracy, it was mandatory to conduct polls and failure to do so was unconstitutional. Appointment of special officers even after completion of the term of panchayats was a unilateral decision of the government. Continuance of such officers for a longer period was against the spirit of the Constitution, the judge observed.