Hyderabad: In a setback to the Telangana state government, the Hyderabad High Court on Thursday declared that not conducting elections to gram panchayats and administering them with special officers was “unconstitutional”.
Justice M.S. Ramachandra Rao directed the State Election Commission (SEC) to conduct elections to gram panchayats within three months. It said the special officers could continue in office till that time.
The judge was allowing a batch of writ petitions filed by the Telangana Sarpanches Association and former sarpanches who had challenged the appointment of unelected persons as special officers for gram panchayats as illegal and unconstitutional.
The petitioners urged the court to direct the government to appoint outgoing sarpanches and ward members as a committee of persons in charge in tune with the 73rd Amendment to the Constitution till the elections are held to the local bodies.
Directing that polls be held within three months to the gram panchayats, Justice Ramachandra Rao asked the State Election Commission to take the support of the Governor in view of the dissolution of the Assembly and a caretaker government being in place.
The judge faulted the state government for not cooperating with the SEC to conduct the elections in all aspects including the enumeration of the Backward Classes and preparation of voter lists and reservation of wards.
Maintaining that it was mandatory to hold the elections to civic bodies in the democracy, Justice Rao observed that not conducting elections to the civic bodies was unconstitutional.
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