Guj civic polls: HC scraps plea seeking one date for vote counting

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Ahmedabad, Feb 19(PTI) The Gujarat High Court on Friday dismissed a petition challenging the State Election Commission's decision to conduct counting of votes for the local bodies' election on different dates.

While the Gujarat BJP has welcomed the decision, the Congress said it is mulling whether to approach the Supreme Court.

As per the election schedule declared by the SEC in January, polls to six municipal corporations will be held on February 21 and counting of votes will be taken up on February 23.

The elections of municipalities and panchayats will take place on February 28, and counting of votes will be done on March 2.

A division bench comprising Justice J B Pardiwala and Justice Ilesh Vora rejected the petition, which had sought the High Court's direction to quash the SEC's January 23 circular fixing February 23 and March 2 as the dates for counting of votes.

The petition was filed jointly by Natwar Mahida, Govind Parmar and Jagdish Makwana on February 2.

The main contention was that the declaration of results on February 23 for six municipal corporations would influence voters of municipalities as well as district and taluka panchayat bodies polls, which will go to polls on February 28.

The petitioners demanded that the date of counting should be the same for a 'free and fair election'.

The SEC, however, argued that different dates had been allotted keeping in mind the coronavirus outbreak.

Different dates would help the authorities in limiting the number of people who gather at counting centres, and thereby contain the spread of the virus, the SEC said.

Unhappy with the verdict, state Congress president Amit Chavda said his legal team will study the court order before taking a decision to approach the Supreme Court. PTI PJT ARU ARU