- Decision on poll timing can be made only by Election Commission, it said
- Elections have not been held in J&K after elected government collapsed
- Now, the coronavirus outbreak is also another concern
Decisions on timing of elections can only be made by the Election Commission of India, the commission said today in a hard-hitting statement after media reports quoting Jammu and Kashmir Lieutenant-Governor GC Murmu that elections in the union territory can be held after the ongoing delimitation exercise. Elections have not been held in Jammu and Kashmir in the two years since the elected government collapsed, with the poll body citing security concerns.
"It would be proper for authorities other than Election Commission to refrain from making such statements which virtually tantamount to interfering with the Constitutional mandate of the Election Commission," the commission said.
Many things have to be taken into account for holding the elections, including "topography, weather, sensitivities arising out of regional and local festivities," the commission said.
Now, the coronavirus outbreak is also another concern, said the agency, which last month announced measures on postal ballots for people above the age of 65 years and withdrew it within days.
Assembly elections in Bihar and a string of by-elections are expected in Madhya Pradesh by the end of this year.
Jammu and Kashmir has not had an elected government since June 2018, when the BJP ended its ruling alliance with Mehbooba Mufti's People's Democratic Party.
There was expectation that the state elections will be held along with the national elections in April-May, but the Election Commission had nixed it, citing the security situation.
In August last year, the Centre ended the special status of Jammu and Kashmir and bifurcated it into two Union Territories. Most political leaders were taken into custody at the time. The Centre said it was a preventive measure against backlash.
In March, before Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced the countrywide lockdown in view of coronavirus many of them were released. The list included former Chief Ministers Farooq Andullah and his son Omar Abdullah. Former Chief Minister and PDP chief Mehbooba Mufti has been allowed to go home, though officially she is still in custody.