Jammu, Dec 20: There have been grave irregularities in the recently conducted Panchayat elections in Jammu and Kashmir, following which appeals have been filed all over the state.
Instances of differences in counting, reshuffling of votes, missing votes, misconduct of Returning Officers and brute violation of rules and regulations mentioned in the Panchayati Raj Act have formed the basis of these appeals.
Panchayat elections in Jammu and Kashmir were conducted in nine-phases with the first phase beginning on November 17.
In Jammu District, no date has been set for the hearing of appeals in the Panchayat Elections matter even though the law mandates that the date of hearing may not be more than seven days from when the appeal was filed.
Piles of appeals lay gathering dust in the office of Rishpal Singh and Kanta Devi who along with being Additional Deputy Commissioners Jammu are also the appellate authority in Jammu District. They were made the appellate authority via an order passed by Sheetal Nanda, Secretary Rural Development.
According to the appellants, “We filed the appeal on 15th December and seven days are almost over. According to the rules, our appeal should have been heard by now. But they are unnecessarily delaying it.”
Another appellant said, “The Returning Officer refused to recount the votes even though he is bound by the rules to do so. And now that I have filed an appeal, nothing is happening. No date of hearing is set and we are being denied our right to be heard.”
When contacted, Additional DC, Jammu Rishpal Singh told The Straight Line, “This is a judicial function and I cannot talk about it.”
Sheetal Nanda, Secretary Rural Development said, “Usually, there is just one appellate authority in Panchayat elections and that is the Additional DC. An order had already been passed in such regard but DC Jammu said that they had two Additional DCs and so we had to take out an SRO distributing the authority between those two which is why the process has gotten a bit delayed.”