New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Monday expressed its anguish at the Andhra Pradesh government, while dismissing its plea to postpone panchayat polls – due next month – against the backdrop of COVID-19 vaccination drive. The top court pointed out that even larger electoral exercises had been successfully held despite far more difficult conditions.Also Read - West Bengal: SEC Postpones Polls For 4 Civic Bodies To February 12 Amid Surge In COVID Cases

A bench of Justices Sanjay Kishan Kaul and Hrishikesh Roy dismissed the Andhra Pradesh government’s challenge to the High Court decision, which declined to interfere with the January 8 order issued by the State Election Commission notifying the election schedule for local bodies. Also Read - Andhra Pradesh Mandal, Zilla Parishad Territorial Constituencies Polls to be Held on April 8: SEC

The bench also expressed its discontent at the staff resolutions passed against State Election Commissioner N Ramesh Kumar, who notified local body polls schedule at the end of January. Also Read - Andhra Pradesh Panchayat Elections First Phase on Tuesday, Polling to Begin at 6.30 AM

“Ego problem between two authorities is leading to lawlessness. We cannot allow lawlessness. How can resolutions be passed against N Ramesh Kumar?” it said, emphasising that it cannot be dragged in this ego battle.

Senior advocate Mukul Rohatgi, appearing for the Andhra Pradesh government, urged the top court to defer the elections for March, as by end of February, the vaccine drive will be over.

To this, the bench replied: “You support the order of the single judge (AP High Court) who does not give any reasons.”

The top court stressed that the court cannot interfere in every political or administrative decision-making. “We cannot take over jobs of everyone. There are some political and administrative decisions. Some decisions will be taken by the Election Commission,” it said.

Noting that it seems this (vaccination drive) is not the real issue, and there is something else, the top court said that elections have been conducted amid the pandemic and expressed surprised at the Andhra Pradesh government’s plea seeking to defer local body polls due to the vaccination drive.

“Very difficult to blame or judge anyone. States have conducted elections amid pandemic,” it said. The bench also noted that Kerala went ahead with polls, and then came the spike in COVID cases. “But we can’t say polls were the reason,” it added.

The top court termed the intervention by an employee federation and certain doctors in the matter as “atrocious.”

“All these intervenors are giving more credence to our views. All these doctors, bureaucrats make us believe in our order. We will dismiss this,” it said.

Senior advocate Ranjit Kumar, along with advocate K Parameshwar, appeared for the state Election Commission.

The Andhra Pradesh government moved the top court challenging the order passed by the High Court’s division bench on January 21, which paved the way for the local body elections. Earlier, a single judge had passed an order in favour of the state government, as it stayed the state Election Commission exercise for the local bodies poll.

Meanwhile, the State Election Commission rescheduled the Andhra Pradesh Gram Panchayat elections, reported ANI. The areas where the elections were to happen in the first phase will now go to polls in the fourth phase.

(With agency inputs)