Vijayawada: The State Election Commission (SEC), on a request made by the Andhra Pradesh government, is contemplating to continue the adjourned election process of Mandal Praja Parishad Territorial Constituency (MPTCs) and Zilla Praja Parishad Territorial Constituency (ZPTCs) which was postponed on March 15, 2020 due to the COVID-19 outbreak.

The SEC has received representations and complaints about aspiring contestants being prevented from filing nominations or withdrawing candidatures under duress and inducements during the earlier election process in March, 2020.

Major political parties have also complained to the commission about poll aberrations and sought its intervention to restart the election process. The commission had obtained a legal opinion on the basis of which it will go ahead with the election process considering its concern for a free and fair election process for which it is fully committed.

Analogous to the relief accorded in the case of urban local body elections, that went through a similar disconcerting issue, the commission intends to accommodate the same relief to the MPTC/ZPTC poll process.

The commission had formulated the guidelines and sought information from the collectors, who are also the district election authorities. The commission would act using the reservoir of power it is vested with by way of its plenary powers under Article 243K of the Constitution of India. The affected parties can now approach the district election authorities with evidence of being prevented from filing nominations or forced to withdraw candidatures by adducing evidence by way of lodging complaints with the returning officers, complaints filed with the police, and by adducing credible information widely available in the public domain.

The commission would take a considered view in all such cases in due consideration of issues of fact as well as issues of law. The commission has requested the officials to complete the above processes by March 20, 2021 and submit their reports to the commission to initiate further action and make the election process inclusive.

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