The Supreme Court on Thursday laid down general guidelines for holding timely elections to panchayats and municipalities.
A five-judge Constitution Bench, headed by Chief Justice YK Sabharwal, said that the Election Commission should try to complete the elections before the expiry of the five-year term and only in exceptional circumstances like calamities or breakdown of law and order, the delay would be justified.
Under no circumstances, elections to panchayats and municipalities should be extended as a regular feature, the court said.
The Court said that any revision of the electoral rolls should be carried out in time and if it cannot not be done in reasonable time, elections have to be conducted on the then existing rolls.
"The Election Commission shall complete the polls before the expiry of the duration of five-year period as stipulated and not yield to a situation that may be created by vested interests to postpone elections from being held within the stipulated time," the Bench also comprising Justices KG Balakrishnan, SH Kapadia, CK Thakker and PK Balasubramanyan said.
Expressing confidence that the EC will take steps to prepare the electoral rolls on time, the Bench said, "In no circumstance, it shall be delayed so as to cause gross violation of mandatory provisions contained in Article 243-U of the Constitution."