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Madras HC Directs State Election Commission To Conduct Local Body Elections By 17 November [Read Judgment]

The Madras High Court, on Monday, directed the Tamil Nadu State Election Commission (TNSEC) to conduct the local body elections by 17 November.

The Bench comprising Chief Justice Indira Banerjee and Justice M. Sundar took note of the urgency of the situation, as a period of almost one year had elapsed from the date of expiration of the tenure of the local bodies, and directed the Commission to issue a notification for the same by 18 September.

The Court was hearing a batch of Appeals, including one filed by the TNSEC challenging a single Judge’s order on the issue, and another filed by DMK praying for conduct of elections at the earliest.

The impugned order had been passed by Justice N. Kirubakaran, who had, on 4 October, quashed the notification issued on 26 September for conduct of elections on 17 and 19 October, ruling that the same violated Rule 24 of the Tamil Nadu Panchayat (Election) Rules, 1995 which contemplates issuance of advance notifications.

Further, taking serious note of people with criminal antecedents getting elected to the civic bodies, Justice Kirubakaran had directed the TNSEC to make it mandatory for the contestants to disclose their criminal history.  He had also ordered the Commission to write to political parties to desist from fielding such candidates and to complete the elections by 31 December. This deadline had, however, not been met, since the Commission filed an Appeal against the order.

During the hearing of the Appeal, the Commission had submitted that it was not possible to comply with certain directions issued by Justice Kirubakaran, such as scanning and uploading on its website affidavits of the candidates. It had pointed out that there would be 4.90 lakh candidates and each affidavit would run into 6-10 pages.

The Division Bench, however, opined that it was not the intention of the Single Judge to order that the entire affidavit should be uploaded. “What was directed was that the details provided by the candidates in the form of affidavits and/or in other words, in their affidavits should be accurately uploaded in the website. There is no direction to upload the entire affidavit as understood by the concerned respondents,” the Bench observed.

It further clarified, “the State Election Commission shall consolidate, record and data base the details provided in the affidavits affirmed by the candidates accurately and upload them in its website. We agree that electors are entitled to know the credentials and antecedents of all candidates who contest the elections. The data base of the information provided by the candidates has to be uploaded in the website of the Election Commission and that is what the Single Bench has directed. We direct that the affidavits should, if required, be made available for inspection in the local taluk offices and furnished subject to payment of requisite charges.”

Read the Judgment Here

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