Srinagar: Noting that the tenure of the existing Panchayat bodies in Jammu and Kashmir was expiring on January 10, 2024, State Election Commissioner (SEC) of J&K, B R Sharma Tuesday said that Panchayat polls in J&K would be held this year from October-November.
Talking to Greater Kashmir, Sharma said that the law stipulates that elections should be held a month before the expiry of the tenure of the existing Panchayat body.
“So, if the tenure ends on January 10, 2024, then elections must be held by December 10, and the entire process for holding the elections be conducted by October-November, 2023. The laws have been notified accordingly," Sharma said. "Since the Panchayats were constituted in December 2018 and January 2019, we must conduct their elections before the expiry of their tenure. Therefore, it is expected that elections will be held between November and December this year."
Regarding the preparations, he said that his predecessor had already done considerable work on preparation of the electoral rolls.
"I am also reviewing it. The voter list needs to be revised based on the reference of January 2023, and a special revision will also be conducted to include anyone left out," he said.
Sharma said that a special summary revision was also conducted to ensure that anyone excluded from the list could be included.
"If we suspect any discrepancies, it is better to be cautious and our efforts are to ensure that no one is left out from the list," he said.
On whether the elections will be held on party or non-party basis, Sharma said that there were provisions for both to hold elections on a party basis or a non-party basis, but the grassroots democracy, as in the previous election, was likely to remain unchanged if conducted on a non-party basis.
"However, the government has the prerogative to decide the method. The final decision will be made by the government and the Election Commission will proceed accordingly," he said.
Regarding the plea from the existing Panchayat bodies to defer the election, Sharma said that the tenure was determined by the law and would expire in January 2024.
"There have been no amendments, and the tenure is not expected to change," he said.
Sharma said that anyone who attained the age of 18 years on January 1, 2023, or before were eligible to vote.
About the arrangements, the SEC said that the administration takes care of all arrangements, including security.
"This time, the security situation seems to be better, and all necessary arrangements will be made accordingly," he said.
The last Panchayat polls were held in J&K from November 17 to December 11, 2018 in around 4378 Panchayats.
The Panchayat polls were held on November 17, 20, 24, 27, 29, December 1, 4, 8, and 11, 2018, while the counting of votes was done on the day of polling.