SC declines plea to put Kashmir assembly poll on hold

SC declines plea to put Kashmir assembly poll on hold

The Supreme Court Monday declined a plea by the Jammu and Kashmir Awami National Conference to put on hold the assembly election, as the party contended that a large number of people displaced in the recent devastating floods will not able to exercise their franchise.

"Sorry," said the bench of Chief Justice H.L. Dattu and Justice A.K. Sikri as it declined to accept counsel Rajiv Dhawan's plea that lakhs of people, even within Srinagar, were displaced and there was no school building where polling booths can be located for voting as is generally done.

"They are not ready for relief, but they say they are ready for election. They don't have manpower to carry out relief operations," Dhawan said, pointing to the gravity of the situation.

Founded by former chief minister G.M. Shah, the Jammu and Kashmir Awami National Conference faulted the Election Commission's decision to hold elections in the state both on the count of wrong reading of its constitutional provisions and misunderstanding of the ground situation.

The court also declined a plea by petitioner Vasundhara Pathak Masoodi to ask the Centre to release Rs.41,000 crore sought by the state government for relief and rehabilitation of the flood-affected people.

"We can't force them to give it tomorrow. It is not just Rs.100 crore, it is Rs.41,000 crore," Chief Justice Dattu told the petitioner.

Additional Solicitor General Tushar Mehta told the court that the demand by the Kashmir government will be examined by the finance ministry and the Planning Commission.

Mehta said an inter-ministerial team visited the flood-affected state and has submitted its report which will be examined.

As Masoodi said students should be promoted to the next class without burdening them with examinations, as the school buildings were in a very bad condition, the advocate general of Jammu and Kashmir said the state government has already postponed the examination scheduled for November till March 2015.

He said that as far as board examinations for senior classes were concerned, they were governed by the state's Secondary Board. And as it was an autonomous body, it will take its own call.

The court was hearing a plea by three petitioners - Masoodi, Rayees Rasool and Jammu and Kashmir National Panthers Party - who sought the court's intervention in the relief and rehabilitation work.

Appearing for the National Panthers Party, counsel Bhim Singh painted a grim picture of the relief and rehabilitation work.

He said there was no state-level disaster management authority for the relief work.

However, it was contested by Advocate General Mohammad Ishaq Qadri, who said the Disaster Management Committee has already been set up and was addressing the problems faced by the people.

At this, the court said: "If you say that the Disaster Management Committee has been constituted, then tell us what you have done." Directing the state government to furnish information sought by the petitioners, the court adjourned the hearing till Nov 24.

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