VIJAYAWADA: Coronavirus has posed a threat to public health and keeping this in mind the State Election Commissioner N. Ramesh Kumar has declared that the Andhra Pradesh Local Body Polls have been postponed by 6 weeks until further notice.

Speaking to media on Sunday, the SEC said that since the Centre has declared a national emergency with the spread of the virus and with WHO also declaring Coronavirus as a global pandemic, the state local body elections have been postponed keeping the public health in mind. This decision was taken after a high-level review meeting was conducted earlier.

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The Election Commissioner also quoted the Supreme Court Judgement in the Kishan Singh Tomar Vs The Municipal Corporation of Ahmadabad City rendered in 2006, that elections can be postponed under exceptional circumstances, natural calamities like floods, earthquake till normalcy is restored.

The SEC will exercise its plenary powers under Articles 243K and 243 ZA of the Indian Constitution and has put a hold on the election process of the MPTCs/ZPTCs, Municipal Corporations and Panchayats, he said.

This notice will come into immediate effect for a period of six weeks or till the threat of the spread of COVID-19 is arrested or declined and normal is restored, facilitating public gatherings for conduct of elections.

He also said that the election process will be continued from the stage where it stopped in respect of the MPTCs/ZPTCs and Urban Local Bodies.

Since the ballot, paper is being used and considering the long queues where large number of people will gather at one place and the contamination of the ballot boxes and papers pose a threat to public health, it was advised to temporary halt the local body elections. The use of ballot paper would mean more time consumed for the vote, and they would have to stand in the queue for a long time putting public at risk.

Those who are unanimously elected as ZPTC and MPTC members will continue and take charge with those who contest and win the elections later in the duly conducted elections

Ramesh Kumar made it clear that the election process was only halted and notg cancelled. After six weeks are completed the SEC will conduct a review meeting and deliberate the new schedule of elections and the dates. After that a new notification will be announced and the SEC also requested those who filed nominations not to worry as their nominations will hold good.

He also clearly warned that if anyone resorts to intimidation, strict action will be taken against them. He also spoke of the need to set up a separate cell for such complaints. He said there were already many complaints from village volunteers

He brought to the notice that all the schools and malls in Karnataka and Telangana have already been closed and they have decided to postpone election after conducting an emergency review meeting.

He also said that the Model Code of Conduct will continue in these 6 weeks.

The entire election procedure which has continued till now will also hold good and he once again emphasised that this is only a halt to the elections and not cancellation.

The New Election Date Schedule will be released later after conducting a review meeting once the six weeks are over.

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