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Odisha Sun Times Bureau
Bhubaneswar, Mar 21:

“The state government cannot make any change; it is against the Constitution and illegal. By doing this the state government has interfered in the elections. I am sure the High Court would intervene. The result of which will be disastrous. Election of Zilla Parishad Chairpersons will be scrapped” said leader of Opposition in the state Assembly Narasingha Mishra in his comments on the affidavit filed by the State Election Commission (SEC) in the High Court during the hearing on a petition challenging the amendment to Odisha Zilla Parishad Election Rules 1994 by the state government while Zilla Parishad elections were on.

The BJP which has challenged the amendment of the rules by the state government in the High Court has also expressed similar sentiments.

“We had then said that since the Assembly which was in session but was on a break it was not appropriate to issue the notification. A Zilla Parishad member of our party had filed a case in the High Court challenging the notification. The SEC has filed its affidavit in the High Court in this connection. It is the fallout of that. We should wait for the High Court’s direction on this,” said BJP legislative party leader in the state Assembly Kanak Vardhan Singhdeo in his reaction to the SEC’s stand in the High Court.

On the other hand, the BJD has defended the state government for amending the rule.

“This was done with a good intention to check defection. Since in many places like Haryana, defections became commonplace. Here too, candidates have won Zilla Parishad elections on party symbols.  This has helped all the three political parties. The rule was amended to check defection,” said Surjya Narayan Patro.

Notably, the SEC during the hearing on the petition before the High Court in its affidavit had stated: “It was not appropriate on part of the state government to issue notification amending rules while panchayat elections were on. No law or rules pertaining to elections can be enacted during this period. Even no rules pertaining to elections can be amended because it violates article 243K of the Constitution of India.”

The SEC’s stand before the High Court yesterday has spelled trouble for the state government.

“No interference is admissible in the election process. Despite having constitutional powers Supreme Court and High Court do not interfere with the functioning of the SEC when the election process is on. According to article 243K of the Constitution once election process starts all responsibilities is vested with the Commission. Under such circumstances, no rules pertaining to elections can be amended. It violates article 243K of the Constitution of India,” senior High Court lawyer Pitambar Acharya had cited in the affidavit on behalf of the SEC.