Rejecting the State government’s request for an additional 30 days to conduct the panchayat polls, the Bombay High Court at Goa said the reasons cited by the government to delay the polls were not “good and substantial reasons to extend the election process any further”.
The Goa government approached the High Court claiming that the Goa State Legislative Assembly session is scheduled between 11th July 2022 to 12th August 2022, and the Ganesh Chathurthi festivities commence on 31st August 2022, to justify their request for an extension in time.
However, the High Court was not willing to buy the reasoning.
“The two reasons now cited by the State Government are neither the reasons on which the Supreme Court has permitted some deviation from the constitutional mandate of Article 243-E, nor can we say that these are good and substantial reasons to exercise our discretion to extend the election process any further,” the High Court bench of Justices M S Sonak and R N Laddha ruled.
“In terms of the timeline directed by us, the entire election process can conclude by August 12, 2022. Therefore, the second reason, i.e. the commencement of Ganesh Chaturthi festivities from August 31, 2022, is not quite relevant. Thus, the Constitutional mandate's breach cannot be further perpetrated based on such a reason,” the High Court said.
The Advocate General had told the High Court that there will be discussions on the budget in the Session. “Once the elections are declared, the model code of conduct will set in, and the discussions on the budget or even passing the budget may not be possible,” Adv Pangam said.
“At least we, as a Court, enjoined to ensure that the Constitutional mandate has to be compiled, find it difficult to base our discretion on such an approach. Any indulgence would promote the perpetuation of the breach of the Constitutional mandate. We fear we might go against the law and the Supreme Court's clear and specific directions on this issue,” the High Court said.