Cong petitions EC not to defer polls to Gram Panchayats

Our Bureau Bengaluru | Updated on May 22, 2020

The Congress in Karnataka petitioned the State Election Commission not to defer elections or yield to government’s plan to appoint administrative committees to run the Gram Panchayats (GPs).

On Friday, a delegation comprising of Leader of the Opposition Siddaramaiah and KPCC president-designate DK Shivakumar met the Karnataka State Election Commissioner and submitted the petition.

Later, addressing reporters, Siddaramaiah said: “The State Election Commission’s inaction towards initiating the electoral process and to replace the outgoing Gram Panchayat members is unconstitutional and also violates the provisions of Karnataka Panchayat Raj Act 1993.”

The Opposition leader alleged that the State BJP government has been trying to subvert the Constitution and Panchayat Raj laws by postponing elections to GPs citing spread of Covid-19 in the State.

“The Karnataka State Election Commission is an independent body and it need not listen to the government. The government has no right to give directions to the Commission, which is a constitutional body,” Siddaramaiah explained.

“Article 243(E) of our Indian Constitution has prescribed the maximum tenure of five years for members of Gram Panchayats. The tenure of almost 6,024 Gram Panchayats will end in June-July 2020. But still, the State government and the State Election Commission has not initiated action towards this,” said Siddaramaiah.

He added: “The delay in the elections to elect the members of Gram Panchayat will threaten the decentralised system of democracy and goes against the objectives of 73rd Constitutional amendment act.”

Administrative committees to the Gram Panchayats can be appointed only when it is not possible to conduct elections or when no members get elected even after two elections. “But we are not facing any such situation now, so administrative committees cannot be appointed,” Siddharamaiah said.

Published on May 22, 2020

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