HC asks Govt to complete panchayat polls by Jan 10

Hyderabad: The High Court here today gave green signal for conduct of gram panchayat elections in the Telangana State. The court also said the State government could conduct the panchayat elections whenever it is convenient to it. The Election Commission also told the court that it was ready to hold gram panchayat polls if the government offers cooperation. Later, the High Court adjourned the case to come up after three weeks.

It may be mentioned here that the High Court had already directed the State government to hold panchayat election by January 10, 2019. With the term of gram panchayats over on August 1this year, all the panchayats came under the administration of special officers from August 2. When the government was preparing to hold the civic elections in August or September this year, the Opposition parties vehemently opposed the government’s decision by going to the High Court raising issues of irregularities in the voter lists, reservations for BCs and so on. With this, the court delivered judgment directing the government to conduct the elections in three months. The HC made it clear that the poll process be completed by January 10, 2019 and hand over power to the elected bodies.

With the High Court ruling, the State administration which was immersed in the work of Assembly elections, has started the work of conducting gram panchayat elections. Accordingly, the Panchayat Raj department has decided to publish the BC voters lists by December 13 and 14.

The term of elected representatives of about 8,786 gram panchayats had concluded on July 31. The State government appointed special officers to take care of their day-to-day activities. Further, the number of gram panchayats also has been increased to 12,751 through creation of 3,965 new gram panchayats, which came into existence from August 2. Of the total new gram panchayats, 1,177 tribal hamlets have been upgraded to panchayats.
Adding credence to the rumours, the State government on Friday withdrew its plea to increase reservation quota for Backward Classes (BCs), SCs and STs in the Panchayat Raj and other local bodies. The State government sought permission to accord 34 per cent reservations for BCs, 24 per cent to SCs and 9 per cent to STs in the ensuing gram panchayat elections and other local body elections, taking the total quota to 67 per cent in proportion to the population ratio of BCs, SCs and STs in the State.

However, the Supreme Court refused to allow the State to enhance the quota beyond 50 per cent fixed by the Apex Court earlier. Now, the State Election Commission (SEC) may have no other option but to conduct the gram panchayat elections as per the existing reservation quota. The SEC is learnt to have already commenced the necessary exercises in this regard.