Could proceed with Zilla Parishad bypolls if ground situation conducive: Maharashtra SEC to SC

New Delhi: The Maharashtra State Election Commission (SEC) Tuesday told the Supreme Court they could proceed with conducting bypolls to five Zilla Parishads and 33 Panchayat Samitis in the state if the situation on the ground is "conducive".

Hearing an application filed by Maharashtra for extending the timeframe for concluding the by-elections amid the COVID-19 pandemic, the court observed the poll panel is mandated under the Constitution to conduct elections in a certain timeframe.

"The State Election Commission is of the opinion that if the situation on the ground is conducive for conducting by-elections in the concerned constituency and there is no prohibitory order or lockdown order operating in those areas, they could proceed with the election program while ensuring that the standard operating procedures and COVID-19 protocols as notified by the competent authorities, including Disaster Management Authority will be followed in its letter and spirit," a bench of Justices A M Khanwilkar and Sanjiv Khanna noted in its order.

"We place the statement of the State Election Commission on record and direct the State Election Commission to proceed in the matter in accordance with law and report compliance within two months from today," the bench said and posted the matter for September 9 for considering the compliance report.

The counsel appearing for the state told the bench about the health advisory of the Centre on possibility of potential surge in COVID-19 cases due to the Delta-plus variant.

During the hearing conducted through video-conferencing, the bench said the state election commission would take a decision on the issue of conducting polls.

Maharashtra State Election Commission had earlier issued a statement that Dhule, Nandurbar, Akola, Washim and Nagpur Zilla Parishads will vote on July 19. The counting of votes will be taken up on July 20.

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