Govt again defers Mayoral election, cites COVID pandemic

Citing COVID19 pandemic, Jammu and Kashmir government on Monday deferred Mayoral elections here till mid of December.

An official said the Jammu and Kashmir Municipal Corporation Act-2000 was amended to pave way for deferment of the election. On June 16, former Mayor, Junaid Mattu was removed for the position after he lost the floor test.

The official said as per the rules, the election for the post was to be conducted within one month. However, on July 15 the election was deferred till September 15 in terms of the amendment made by the government in the rules, citing COVID19.

An order issued by Principal Secretary Housing and Urban Housing Development Department, Hirdesh Kumar today said the Commissioner Srinagar Municipal Commissioner (SMC) had informed the government that conduct of the election was not possible within the stipulated date of September 15, as authorities had notified 96 zones in Srinagar as “micro-containment zones” amid surge in COVID cases and prohibited any inward or outward movement of people in the zones where a large number of councilors reside.

The Commissioner had also informed that as a result of the prohibition on any kind of movement of people in and out from these areas, the conduct of election to the post of Mayor within the period prescribed (September 15 under the Act, was not possible.

Now, the government has inserted a new proviso to J&K Municipal Corporation Act to defer the elections. “Provided also that the government may, if the circumstances so warrant, on account of reasons of internal security, public health including health pandemic, natural calamity such as floods, earthquake, snowstorm or an event of a similar or any other reason which is a hindrance to the conduct of election of the Mayor or the Deputy Mayor, by reasons to be recorded in writing, extend the time limit of conducting the elections up to a maximum of six months from the date the office of the Mayor or the Deputy Mayor falls vacant,” it reads.