Kochi: The Kerala High Court on Thursday directed the State Election Commission to conduct the coming local bodies elections on the basis of the 2019 voters list used for the Lok Sabha polls and not a 2015 list used for local polls that year. The new local bodies in Kerala have to assume office latest by November.
Earlier, the Congress-led UDF had approached the High Court on the use of the 2019 voters' list, but it ruled out interfere in the matter as the poll process had begun.However, the UDF appealed against the decision, following which the division bench overruled the single-judge verdict.
The Kerala government and the State Election Commission had maintained that they would prefer the 2015 voters list as using the 2019 list meant a lot of expenditure as local polls were held on the basis of wards as compared with assembly polling booths in other elections.
"This is not a setback to the state government. Did we say that it was a setback for the United Democratic Front when the court ruled in favour of the 2015 list? As far as the state is concerned, we have to ensure smooth conduct of the polls, and we will do it," Local Bodies Minister A.C. Moideen told the media. V. Bhaskaran, State Election Commissioner said that this need not be seen as a setback.
"We only pointed out the difficulties of using the 2019 Lok Sabha voters list as it has to be recast with regard to polling booths based on wards in the local bodies. Once the verdict comes, we will go through it and if need be, might go in for an appeal," said Bhaskaran.
Senior Congress leader N. Venugopal, who was the petitioner in the case, said that there was huge difference in the 2015 and 2019 lists. "The 2015 list comprises names of 2.51 crore voters, while the 2019 list has 2.61 crore voters. Around 1.2 million voters in the 2015 list have since changed their address or moved out, or passed away. So, it would not be right to use it," Venugopal said. As for likely appeal in the matter, he said that local bodies polls ideally be held in October will be delayed. Perhaps, that's what the ruling Left wants, he said.