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Change in ZP poll rules: SEC opposes amendments in HC

Bhubaneswar, Mar 20: In a major jolt to the BJD Government in connection with the recent amendment to Odisha Zilla Parishad Elections Rules, the State Election Commission (SEC) on Monday argued in the Orissa High Court (HC) stating that once the process of election has started, no Rules governing the said election should be changed midway.

Arguing on behalf of SEC in the matter, lawyer Pitambar Acharya brought to the notice of the HC about several directives of the Supreme Court in this regard and said the SC has repeatedly observed that Government should refrain from interfering with the election process once it has commenced. Even the courts should not interfere either when the election in the halfway, he argued.

On March 8, the Panchayati Raj Department amended the Election Rules of 1994 by incorporating a new clause just four days before the scheduled elections for the post of presidents of Zilla Parishads fixed on March 12 sparking controversy. As per the amended rules, an authorised agent of each political party, whose members will vote for the election of ZP president or vice-president, will be allowed to verify ballot papers of his/her party members before they cast their votes to ensure transparency.

Immediately, an elected ZP member of Sundargarh district approached the Orissa High Court challenging the State Government’s move.

The Division Bench headed by Chief Justice Vineet Saran is hearing the case. The State Government would put its view on Thursday.

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