Poll codes: SEC proposes, HC rejects

Cuttack/Bhubaneswar:The High Court today stayed the State Election Commission (SEC) order banning support of political parties to the sarpanch, panchayat samiti member and ward member candidates for the ensuing panchayat polls. The High Court bench observed that it was not possible to implement the order of the SEC as the election processes have already started and fixed the next hearing for Thursday.

The SEC through its January 19 directive had asked that the candidates for the three-tier panchayat polls should not declare party affiliations and the leaders of the political parties should also not publicly request the voters to vote for their party candidates. The High Court stayed the SEC order on hearing the plea by Heeramani Singh, sarpanch candidate from Mitrapur panchayat in Balasore district who petitioned that the SEC direction amounted to infringement of political rights.

The SEC had banned the candidates from using the party symbols and names of its leaders during campaigning for the elections. All political parties aside from the Nationalist Congress Party had raised serious objections to the directives by the SEC. The election commissioner Ajit Tripathy had categorically cautioned that the order would be strictly implemented though the political parties arrive at any consensus on the caveat.

The observation by the High Court and the stay order has cleared the air on the controvery. The sarpanch, panchayat samiti member, and ward member candidates can now openly campaign in the name of their respective political parties.