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SC asks poll panel if Kashmir relief work conflicts with code of conduct
Saturday November 1, 2014 9:32 AM, IANS

The Supreme Court Thursday sought the response of the Election Commission on if the enforcement of model code of conduct was impeding relief and rehabilitation work in flood-ravaged Jammu and Kashmir where people are still living in difficult conditions getting compounded by the onset of winter.

Asking the petitioners to implead the Election Commission as a respondent in the matter, a bench of Chief Justice H.L.Dattu, Justice Madan B. Lokur and Justice A.K.Sikri said: "Prior to notification (by the Election Commission) we could say (issue directions). Now our hands are tied. What we can do."

"I share your concern. I know the situation there. Make Election Commission a party. We can direct thereafter if needed," Chief Justice Dattu said as the three petitioners - Vasundhara Pathak Masoodi, Rayees Rasool and Jammu and Kashmir National Panthers Party - urged the court to ask the government not to pause the relief and rehabilitation work.

Impressing upon the petitioner that even the apex court was in a bind, the court said: "At this stage can we say ignore the code of conduct and implement the relief measures."

In a poser to senior counsel Bhim Singh appearing for his Panthers Party, Chief Justice Dattu said: "All the political parties could have said (to the Election Commission) that people are suffering, let the elections be postponed."

The court directed the listing of the matter Nov 7.

In its report the court appointed committee that had visited various parts of the flood ravaged state has said that the distribution machinery in many districts have to be geared up as "free ration has not been properly distributed in some districts, particularly in Srinagar, Pulwama, Rajouri and Udhampur".

Referring to certain area Panjar, the report said: "It was shocking to hear that each household had only got only 03 (three) kilogram rice as a free ration so far till Oct 7, instead of 50 kg ration for the month of September and 35 kg for the month of October".

Referring to the residential structures that had been flattened during the floods, the committee said: "Some sort of concrete arrangements have to be made for their (the people's) speedy rehabilitation, so that they can survive during ensuing winter, which has almost set in Kashmir and is about to set in Jammu Division. It is imperative to address this grievance of the people on top priority."

As Jammu and Kashmir Advocate General B. Qadri sought to give some explanation, Chief Justice Dattu asked him: "Mr. Qadri, have you seen the report. Are you satisfied with what has been done?"

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