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No change in Chandigarh panchayat poll schedule

Of a total of 13,276 seats of sarpanches and 83,831 seats of panches, 4,363 sarpanches and 46,754 panches have been elected unanimously, the election commission says.

chandigarh Updated: Dec 28, 2018 14:10 IST
HT Correspondent
HT Correspondent
Hindustan Times, Chandigarh
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The state election commission (SEC) on Thursday said the panchayat polls in Punjab will be held as per schedule after the Punjab and Haryana high court refused to modify the December 24 order asking the government to consider representations of those whose candidature was rejected.

The HC vacation bench of justices TS Dhindsa and Mahabir Singh Sidhu took up the petition and deferred the hearing to January 7.

“The elections will be held on December 30 as the high court did not comment on the poll schedule,” state election commissioner Jagpal Singh Sandhu told HT.

“The competent authorities, i.e., the deputy commissioners, were taking up individual representations. They know the fate of representations which as per HC orders were to be filed within 48 hours of the December 24 order. The aggrieved persons should have made their representations within the specified time,” Sandhu said.

Of a total of 13,276 seats of sarpanches and 83,831 seats of panches, 4,363 sarpanches and 46,754 panches have been elected unanimously, the election commission says.

On December 24, the HC bench hearing at least 100 petitions alleging arbitrary rejection of candidature had asked all the petitioners to make representations for the redressal of their grievances to the deputy commissioners, who in turn, were directed to direct the same to the returning officers concerned. A window of 48 hours was given for the grievance redressal.

The state government then had argued that the order was in violation of the Supreme Court directive saying courts can’t interfere once election process is set in motion.

“The order was passed in 110 petitions, without even hearing the state government which doesn’t even know what was grievance of the petitioners. In many cases, they have not got the writ petitions filed by the candidates,” the state’s counsel had told the HC.

The state argued ballot papers have already been printed and if new candidates were allowed the polls will have to be postponed.

Though the government functionaries claim that the entire election was carried in a transparent and fair manner, the Aam Aadmi Party (MLA) and the Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) called it a farce.

“How can the government deny that it was not interfering in the poll process? Moreover, rejection of the government’s plea for a review of order today is a slap on their face,” AAP MLA Aman Arora said.

He demanded that facility of postal ballots be given to at least 1 lakh government employees to cast their vote in the panchayat polls.

SAD spokesman Daljit Singh Cheema said the government should have gone by the court order and made serious efforts for grievance redressal of the aggrieved parties. “A large number of people complained against the poll process. All of them cannot be wrong,” he said.

First Published: Dec 28, 2018 14:08 IST