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Supreme Court: Can’t be part of this ego battle between Govt & Election Commission

In a major blow to the Government of Andhra Pradesh seeking the Supreme Court to postpone Panchayat Elections in the state citing COVID-19 vaccination drive in the state, the Supreme Court has said it “refuses to be part of the ego battle.”  
 
A Bench of Justices Sanjay Kishan Kaul and Hrishikesh Roy expressed disappointment at the staff resolutions passed against the State Election Commissioner, N. Ramesh Kumar who had notified local body polls to be held by the end of January.
 
“Ego problem between two authorities is leading to lawlessness. We cannot allow lawlessness. How can resolutions be passed against the N. Ramesh Kumar? We cannot be a part of this ego battle. We cannot take over jobs of everyone,” the Court remarked.
 
The Supreme Court further observed that elections have been conducted in the past during COVID-19 and that the plea to defer local body polls owing to COVID-19 vaccine drive cannot be entertained.
 
“Very difficult to blame or judge anyone. States have conducted elections during COVID-19. Even Kerala did and there is a spike now but we can’t say polls were the reason,” the Bench said. The Supreme Court further said that it cannot interfere in every political or administrative decision of the government just because it files petitions.
 
“We cannot take over everyone's jobs. There are some political and administrative decisions. Some decisions will be taken by the Election Commission. This makes me feel this is not the issue, it is something else,” the Bench said.
 
When interveners such as Employees Federation and certain doctors sought to intervene in the case, the Supreme Court termed it “atrocious. All these intervenors are giving more credence to our views. All these doctors, bureaucrats make us believe in our order. We will dismiss this. Some of the interventions were completely uncalled for and no business to delve into this issue. Matter dismissed,” the Court said.
 
Though Senior Advocate Rohatgi, representing the Andhra Pradesh government, attempted to persuade the Bench to defer the elections for March stating that vaccine drive would be wrapped up by February 28, the top court did not heed to the request. “You support the order of the single judge (of the Andhra Pradesh High Court) which does not give any reasons,” said Justice Roy.
 
The State government had moved the Supreme Court against an order passed by a Division Bench of the High Court on January 21, giving a green signal for the elections. Earlier, a single judge Bench had ruled in favour of the government and stayed the process of election to local bodies initiated by the State Election Commission.
 
In its appeal, the State government has raised questions on the medical expertise of Kumar to take such a decision at a time when COVID-19 vaccination drive is in full swing in AP. 
 
“Kumar is not qualified — having no medical expertise — to decide whether Elections ought to be conducted at a time when vaccination drive is on full swing and the effect of elections on (i) the vaccination drive and (ii) the spread of virus,” the petition filed by AP government stated.
 
The State claimed that holding elections at such a time can “put the entire vaccination drive into a disarray and endanger the lives of lakhs of citizens,” though it has not been taken into account by Kumar. It will also put the police force in the State under strain, the plea highlighted.
 
As per the petition, the entire police force of the State is scheduled to be vaccinated with effect from the first week of February. “In effect, the police will be required to (i) ensure that the entire police force is vaccinated; (ii) Ensure that the Elections are conducted (ii) ensure storage and transport of the vaccine. The aforesaid cannot be lost sight of,” the government has contended.
 
Finally, the opposition is finally relieved that the Supreme Court has decided not to interfere in this and has given a rap to the state government to go ahead with the elections. As a consequence of the verdict, the YSRCP has come out and given a statement that it is ready to go ahead with the SEC notification on polls. 

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