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After Supreme Court stepped in, new date for Ladakh polls, Omar says admin had ‘biased agenda’

The Union Territory of Ladakh has issued fresh notification for elections to the Ladakh Autonomous Hill Development Council elections for Kargil. The elections will now take place on October 4.

This comes after the Supreme Court, while restoring the National Conference’s party symbol for the upcoming election, also set aside the UT administration’s previous election notification since NC candidates had not been able to file nominations.

The new date for filing of nomination papers for the 26 seats in the hill council is September 9 and the last date for nominations will be September 16. Polling will take place on October 4 and the results for the council are to be declared on October 8.

After the legal battle between the UT of Ladakh and the National Conference reached the Supreme Court, the party symbol was restored to the NC with a reprimand to UT officials in Ladakh.

In its order, the court observed that in election matters, once a notification is issued and the election process starts, the Constitutional Courts are loath to interfere, but “where issues crop up, indicating unjust executive action or an attempt to disturb a level-playing field between candidates and/or political parties with no justifiable or intelligible basis, the Constitutional Courts are required, nay they are duty-bound, to step in”.

It also stated that this case “constrains the court to take note of the broader aspect of the lurking danger of authorities concerned using their powers relating to elections arbitrarily and thereafter, being complacent, rather over-confident, that the Courts would not interfere”.

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National Conference vice-president Omar Abdullah on Friday said, “It is unfortunate that we had to wage such a battle for what was our right as a political party. Election guidelines are very clear about the allocation of symbols. Clearly, the administration in Ladakh had a very biased agenda, which is why they went all the way to the Supreme Court to deny us our right but, if you read the verdict, it has been absolutely scathing about the conduct of the Ladakh administration.”

The fact that the court saw fit to impose costs of Rs 1 lakh on the Ladakh administration, he said, “is in itself an indication of how seriously the court viewed the conduct of the Ladakh government”. The order restoring NC’s symbol, the plough to the party, was issued late last night and subsequently, elections were notified again.

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Abdullah said, “Our candidates can now file their nominations and we look forward to receiving the support of the people of Kargil, in this election.”

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