Vijayawada: The Andhra Pradesh High Court on Monday suspended the panchayat elections (local body elections) schedule announced by the State Election Commissioner (SEC) Nimmagadda Ramesh Kumar. The High Court, which was hearing a petition filed by the AP government challenging Nimmagadda's announcement on Friday evening to hold the elections from February 5 to 17, said that the SEC has not taken the decision in an objective manner.

The High Court observed that the SEC did not consider the view of the AP government that local body elections at this juncture would hamper the COVID-19 vaccination drive in the state, that are set to begin from 16 January.

The court order is a vindication for the government which had informed the SEC in a meeting last week that elections are not advisable in view of the vaccination drive as the government apparatus would be completely involved in the massive exercise.

It had also informed Ramesh that elections would put the already burdened government staff and police personnel at a greater risk of contracting the virus. However, the SEC disregarded the government's view and announced the schedule, under which the poll process would have begun on 23 January. Following his announcement, the government moved the High Court on Saturday.

The SEC has now moved High Court with an appeal petition challenging the order of single judge on the local polls.

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