Bypolls to over 13,000 vacant panch and sarpanch seats in Jammu and Kashmir will be conducted in nine phases from early November.
The Administrative Council headed by Lieutenant Governor Manoj Sinha had last week approved the proposal to conduct the by-elections and the notification is likely by October 10.
In 2018, elections to 39,521 sarpanch/panch constituencies in 4,483 Halqa Panchayats were conducted. Of these, 13,257 positions are currently vacant due to resignations, removals, election of sarpanchs as Block Development Council chairpersons, deaths as well as non-availability of candidates at the time of election. Among them, 1,089 vacancies pertain to the office of sarpanch, whereas 12,168 are panch vacancies.
While giving the go-ahead for the bypolls, the J&K administration had stated that “filling of the vacant constitutional posts will ensure devolution of powers and proper grass-root planning in the 3rd-tier of the local self-government. It will ensure that the non-functional Panchayats become functional.”
Elections to the vacancies notified previously were postponed due to “security concerns” and the onset of Covid-19.
Prior to this, an apex committee chaired by Principal Secretary (Home) Shaleen Kabra and comprising DG J&K Police Dilbag Singh, Additional Director General of Police (CID) RR Swain and four other members had been tasked with drawing a roadmap and schedule for conduct of elections to the vacant panchayats and BDCs across the UT.