In the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Kerala High Court dismissed the plea challenging the conduct of the elections to local Bodies in Kerala for the year 2020.
Challenging the decision of election commission contending that the conduct of local body elections in the State of Kerala, in the present scenario will be violative of citizen’s fundamental right guaranteed under Article 21 of the Constitution of India, MLA PC George approached the High Court. He sought directions to defer elections to the local bodies, in the light of the COVID-19 situation in the Kerala.
The proceedings were issued only after considering the views and suggestions received from the deliberations, inputs, the advisory issued for control of COVID-19, by the Director of Health Services, the Commission submitted before the Court. At the earliest ,at any rate before 31.12.2020 the State Election Commission’s decision is to hold elections to all the Municipal Corporations, Municipalities and Panchayats, at all levels in the State, in a manner to complete the entire election process to all constituencies.
The bench comprising the Chief Justice S. Manikumar and Justice Shaji P. Chaly, referring to the proceedings issued by the State Election Commission noted that “it has taken note of COVID-19 pandemic situation in Kerala, views expressed by the Director of Health Services, Government of Kerala, the political parties, mandate of the Constitution of India contained in the Article 243-U.”
While dismissing the petition, the court observed that,
“ We are of the view that the Constitution of India is Supreme, and every decision of an authority under any Act, in the case on hand, the State Election Commission, should be, in accordance with the Constitutional mandate. Merely because there is a rise in the number of cases reported for COVID-19 subsequently, in particular, between 01.10.2020 to 31.10.2020, it cannot be contended that the State Election Commission has not considered the gravity and impact of COVID-19 cases. True that there is no indication by any of the authorities, including the Central Government or the authorities under the Disaster Management Act, 2005, as to when there would be an end to COVID-19 pandemic. But, that alone cannot be a ground, either to declare that the decision of the State Election Commission, to hold the elections, mandated as per the Constitutional provisions, as invalid or to issue any direction to the 2nd respondent to postpone the elections.”
P.C. GEORGE MLA vs. STATE OF KERALA
[WP(C).No.23341 OF 2020(S)]
Chief Justice S. Manikumar and Justice Shaji P. Chaly