Will October's Kerala local body polls be delayed due to voters' list issue?

Will October's Kerala local body polls be delayed due to voters' list issue?
In view of the court order, the election commission has halted the renewal of the voters' list. Representative image/PTI
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Kochi: A Division Bench of the Kerala High Court has asked the State Election Commission (SEC) to use the voters' list prepared for the 2019 Lok Sabha elections as the draft for the upcoming local body elections.

The directive by Chief Justice S Manikumar and Justice Shaji P Chali eventually quashed the SEC's decision to use the voters' list prepared for the 2015 local body election as the draft.

A single bench of the High Court had earlier upheld the commission's decision.

The court passed the verdict while allowing appeals filed by Congress leader N Venugopal and IUML leader Soopy Narikkatteri against a single judge’s judgment that upheld the SEC decision.

Renewal halted

In view of the court order, the election commission has halted the renewal of the voters' list.

Minister for Local Self Governments AC Moideen said the elections will not be delayed because of the verdict. "The election commission has to take decision based on the court verdict. We will abide by it. Local body polls will not be delayed because of the issue of this," he said on Thursday.

However, State Election Commissioner V Bhaskaran said the court order will not delay in the local body polls, scheduled to be held in October. "The verdict was not a setback for the commission. We will inform the practical difficulties to the court," he said.

Appeal may cause election delay

The statement indicated that the SEC may approach the Supreme Court challenging the High Court verdict.

The SEC wants to inform the court the reasons to fix 2015 electoral rolls as the draft and the difficulties in adopting 2019 list as the draft at this point.

It would inform the court that if the 2019 rolls were adopted, field verification would have to be undertaken to verify and update ward numbers and house numbers, making the process expensive.

Legal experts opined that this may delay the election process.

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