4- phase J& K lo­cal polls in Oct

The Asian Age - - Front Page -

Pooh- poohing the boy­cott de­ci­sion of Jammu and Kash­mir’s two ma­jor main­stream po­lit­i­cal par­ties — Na­tional Con­fer­ence ( NC) and Peo­ples’ Demo­cratic Party ( PDP) — and the re­luc­tance of the Congress to par­tic­i­pate in ur­ban lo­cal bod­ies’ polls, the elec­tion au­thor­i­ties on Satur­day an­nounced dates for four- phased polling be­tween Oc­to­ber 8 and 16. The re­sults will be de­clared on Oc­to­ber 20.

Chief elec­toral of­fi­cer ( CEO) Shaleen Kabra said that vot­ing will be held on Oc­to­ber 8, 10, 13 and 16.

The no­ti­fi­ca­tion for the first phase will be is­sued on September 18 and that for phases 2, 3 and 4 on September 20, 22 and 24, re­spec­tively. As many as 17 lakh vot­ers are reg­is­tered for these polls, he said.

The last elec­tions for lo­cal bod­ies, in­clud­ing two mu­nic­i­pal cor­po­ra­tions of the twin cap­i­tals Srinagar and Jammu, three mu­nic­i­pal coun­cils and 72 mu­nic­i­pal com­mit­tees, were held in 2005 and their five- year term ex­pired in 2010. Mr Kabra said that with the

an­nounce­ment of the poll sched­ule, the model code of con­duct has come into force with im­me­di­ate ef­fect and the same shall ap­ply in all mu­nic­i­pal bod­ies go­ing to polls, as also for the can­di­dates, the po­lit­i­cal par­ties and the gov­ern­ment. He added that polling will be held through EVMs and that suit­able num­ber of polling sta­tions has been no­ti­fied for each ward. The PDP has de­cided to boy­cott both ur­ban and ru­ral bod­ies’ elec­tion cit­ing the sit­u­a­tion on the ground created by what it al­leged was the gov­ern­ment’s link­ing these polls with Ar­ti­cle 35A case pend­ing be­fore the Supreme Court ( SC) and ap­pre­hen­sion among the peo­ple thereof.

The NC, on the other hand, an­nounced to stay away from these elec­tions un­less and un­til the Cen­tre clears its po­si­tion vis- a- vis Ar­ti­cle 35A of the Con­sti­tu­tion. It also said that the sit­u­a­tion is not con­ducive in the state for hold­ing elec­tions.

The Congress too has said that the sit­u­a­tion on the ground is not con­ducive for hold­ing these elec­tions and sought cer­tain as­sur­ances and clarifications from the gov­ern­ment on is­sues in­clud­ing the safety of those who may join the fray. Ar­ti­cle 35A guar­an­tees spe­cial rights and priv­i­leges to per­ma­nent res­i­dents of Jammu and Kash­mir, pro­hibit­ing non- per­ma­nent res­i­dents from per­ma­nent set­tle­ment and from ac­quir­ing im­mov­able prop­er­ties, gov­ern­ment jobs and schol­ar­ships in the state. How­ever, a pe­ti­tion seek­ing re­moval of Ar­ti­cle 35A is cur­rently pend­ing be­fore a three­judge bench of the Supreme Court.

NGO We the Cit­i­zens, be­lieved to be an RSS think- tank, chal­lenged Sec­tion 35A in the SC in 2014 on grounds that it was not added to the Con­sti­tu­tion through amend­ment un­der Ar­ti­cle 368 and that it was never pre­sented be­fore Par­lia­ment, and came into ef­fect im­me­di­ately.

SC had on Au­gust 31 de­ferred the hear­ing on pe­ti­tions chal­leng­ing the con­sti­tu­tional va­lid­ity of Ar­ti­cle 35A af­ter its three­mem­ber bench headed by Chief Jus­tice Di­pak Misra was in­formed that in view of the im­pend­ing eight­phased lo­cal body elec­tions and law and or­der sit­u­a­tion in the state, the hear­ing be de­ferred.

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