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'Constitutional Mandate To Conduct Elections In Time-Bound Manner Cannot Be Defeated' : Supreme Court Sets Sep 15 Deadline For TN Local Body Polls

Radhika Roy
23 Jun 2021 6:25 AM GMT
Constitutional Mandate To Conduct Elections In Time-Bound Manner Cannot Be Defeated : Supreme Court Sets Sep 15 Deadline For TN Local Body Polls
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The Supreme Court on Wednesday directed the State Election Commission in Tamil Nadu to conclude the entire process of the local body elections in the nine newly carved districts by 15th September, 2021, including publication/notification of election schedule and the result of the elections. A Bench of Justices Hemant Gupta and Aniruddha Bose was hearing a Miscellaneous Application in a...

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The Supreme Court on Wednesday directed the State Election Commission in Tamil Nadu to conclude the entire process of the local body elections in the nine newly carved districts by 15th September, 2021, including publication/notification of election schedule and the result of the elections.

A Bench of Justices Hemant Gupta and Aniruddha Bose was hearing a Miscellaneous Application in a plea wherein the Supreme Court had previously directed the State in December 2019 to delimit the nine newly constituted districts within a period of three months.

However, the State had taken more than 18 months to conclude the same, and sought for 6 more months to conduct the election.

In yesterday's hearing, Senior Advocate PS Narasimha, appearing for the Election Commission of India (ECI), informed the Court that four months were required to complete the local body elections that were to be held in the State.

However, this was initially opposed by the Court – "Your tenure ended in 2018-2019. Even the delimitation was supposed to be done in 4 months, but instead 18 months have passed. Hold the elections by August 31. We are aware of the ground realities. It's the political partiies who are not ready".

In response to this, Narasimha submitted that the COVID-19 pandemic had disrupted the process and sought for more time. His assertion was supported by Senior Advocate P. Wilson, appearing for the State, who stated that "Efficiency of the administration is not in question, your Lordships. Tamil Nadu has a high number of cases; it is a health issue".

Noting that COVID had become a "good excuse for all matters", the Court stated that holding of the elections was a constitutional obligation that had to be followed. However, the Bench proceeded to grant time till September 15 to conclude the elections.

"We grant extension of time till 15th September, 2021 to complete the entire process including publication/notification of election schedule and the result thereof before 15th September, 2021 as the constitutional mandate to conduct elections in the time bound manner cannot be defeated in this manner", recorded the Court.

In the December 11, 2019 order, a Supreme Court Bench of former Chief Justice of India SA Bobde, and Justices S. Abdul Nazeer and Sanjib Khanna, had disposed of the PIL by issuing direction to the Respondents that the impending elections to all wards and offices were to be conducted relying on the  2011 census irrespective of the number of seats after the delimitation exercise.

The time that had been given to carry the delimitation exercise had been fixed at 3 months.

Click here to read/download the order




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