Hyderabad: The Telangana High Court on Monday directed the State Election Commission not to issue a notification on municipal elections in the state until it hears a public interest litigation filed by state Congress chief N Uttam Kumar Reddy on Tuesday. The SEC said it will wait for the court’s order.

A division bench of Chief Justice Raghavendra Singh Chauhan and Justice A Abhishek Reddy gave the direction after expressing prima facie view that it was wrong on the part of SEC to have announced the schedule for the election before issuing of a notification on the polls. In his PIL, the Pradesh Congress Committee chief has urged the court to set aside the schedule announced by the SEC and direct it to bring out a fresh one giving sufficient time for preparation.

Senior counsel D Prakash Reddy, who represented the petitioners, cited Section 195 of the Telangana Municipalities Act, 2019 to submit that the notification of polls must precede the schedule. In this case, he said, the schedule was brought out first and the notification is being later.

The counsel also said that reservations for various social categories in local bodies had not been finalised when the schedule was announced. This means candidates have very little time to contest, he argued, adding that this season of farming and festivals is not conducive for polls.

Appearing for the SEC, senior counsel C V Mohan Reddy told the court that the schedule was announced on December 23, while the notification would be issued on January 7. He said candidates in reserved constituencies need not submit caste certificates and that only self-declaration forms about caste, attested by a gazetted officer would suffice. Therefore, he said, the argument of short time for candidates in procuring caste certificates is not true.

The bench saw merit in the petitioner’s argument about the chronology of announcing the schedule and notification. It directed the counsel for SEC to see that the notification is not issued, as scheduled on Tuesday, till the hearing in the case is completed. SEC’s counsel gave an undertaking that they would wait for the order of the court.

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