SC orders SEC to announce schedule for local body polls in two weeks

The Municipal Corporations which will face elections include Nagpur, Mumbai, Pune, Thane, Nasik, Navi Mumbai, Kolhapur and Solapur.

Nagpur: In a severe jolt to the MVA Government in Maharashtra, the Supreme Court on Wednesday has ordered the State Election Commission (SEC) to announce the schedule for Municipal and Zilla Parishad elections within two weeks.

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Notably, the SEC, in an affidavit, had said that the time taken to prepare for the polls will stretch till June, by which time the monsoon will begin. Elections cannot be held during the monsoon months since it poses logistical challenges, the SEC had pointed out.

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The Supreme Court was hearing a clutch of petitions on the state’s local body polls, including one challenging the OBC quota and also the state’s new law which allowed the government to take over the powers for delimitation and ward formation for local bodies from the SEC. The law was passed by the State Assembly in March and requires the delimitation and ward formation for civic bodies to be undertaken afresh. The state government had proposed the amendment, observers say, hoping to buy time for restoration of the 27% OBC quota.

The SEC Secretary Kiran Kurundkar said that even if the SC directed that the polls be held immediately, it will take over a month for the civic bodies to get the delimitation and ward formation approved. Voter lists will also have to be finalised. By then the monsoon will begin, and polls cannot be held till the end of the monsoon. Typically, polls are not held during the monsoon because the season poses logistical challenges, he said.

By the end of September, the local body polls whose term will end will include 20 Municipal Corporations, 25 Zilla Parishads, 285 Panchayat Samitis, 210 Municipal Councils and 2000 Gram Panchayats. The Municipal Corporations which will face elections include major civic bodies including Nagpur, Mumbai, Pune, Thane, Nasik, Navi Mumbai, Kolhapur and Solapur.

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