SAC sets 4-Phase schedule for Municipal elections, 8-Phases for Panchayat polls

GJ REPORT
SRINAGAR, AUG 31: In a major decision aimed at empowerment of the people at the grass root level, Governor Satya Pal Malik released the schedule for the Municipal and Panchayat elections in the state, which has been under Governor’s Rule since June.
The decision was taken by the State Administrative Council (SAC), which met here under the chairmanship of Governor, after extensive deliberations on various aspects and feedback received from the Departments of Housing & Urban Development, Rural Development & Panchayati Raj and Home decided to commence the formal process for conducting Municipal Body and Panchayat elections in the Jammu & Kashmir and take all other consequential action as per law.
According to the schedule, the elections to the Municipal bodies in the state will be held in four phases from October 1 to 5. Similarly, the Panchayat polls will be conducted in eight phases from November 8 to December 4.
Malik chaired the State Administrative Council (SAC) meeting on Friday during which a decision was taken to hold Municipal Polls in October followed by Panchayat elections a month later.
“After extensive deliberations on various aspects and feedback received from the departments of Housing and Urban Develo-pment, Rural Development and Panchayati Raj and Home, the SAC decided to commence the formal process for conducting municipal body and Panchayat elections in Jammu and Kashmir and take all other consequential action as per law,” an official spokesperson said.
The Chief Electoral Officer was asked to adjust the schedules keeping in view security, operational and the polling requirements.
The SAC also decided to grant a month’s extra salary in favour of the staff engaged in the conduct of elections, besides insurance cover to mitigate risks.
Voter education will be given special focus. For this purpose, the government will launch a sustained campaign to sensitize the voters about the importance of these elections in the socio-economic development at the grass root level.
Panchayat and Urban Local Body elections will enable people to take decisions at their own level, without having to go to the state capital or the district headquarters for their basic requirements. Local Bodies will handle a substantial amount of funds and truly empower people all over the state.
In view of the Panchayat polls, the Supreme Court earlier today deferred till January, 2019 the crucial hearing on pleas challenging the constitutional validity of Article 35-A, which provides special rights and privileges to the natives of Jammu and Kashmir.
The Bench headed by Chief Justice Dipak Misra was told by Attorney General KK Venugopal and Additional Solicitor General (ASG) Tushar Mehta, representing the Centre and Jammu and Kashmir government respectively that the issue was “very sensitive” and keeping in mind the law and order aspect, the hearing be held in January or March, 2019.