Madras HC cancels Tamil Nadu local body elections over alleged irregularities

The local body elections in Tamil Nadu were scheduled for October 17 and 19

Making the political situation in Tamil Nadu a bit complicated, the Madras High Court on Tuesday cancelled the state local body elections, citing many irregularities with the poll notifications.

The local body elections in Tamil Nadu were scheduled for October 17 and 19, 2016, and a total of 497,840 nominations were filed by political parties.

Hearing a petition filed by opposition Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK) on 27 September, a single-member bench cancelled the notification and directed the state election commission to issue a fresh notification.

The high court also instructed the authorities to complete the poll process by December this year.

DMK, along with other opposition parties, earlier complained the irregularities in the process, citing the urgency with which the poll process was carried on.

According to media reports, question raised from different corners as ruling front AIADMK started filing their nomination the very next day of the EC’s announcement of dates.

Opposition parties questioned how the AIADMK was well aware about ward allocations and other confidential details.

While filing a petition in HC, DMK’s senior counsel said: “Secrecy was maintained at all levels. Even the election schedule was announced on Sunday, which is a holiday, at 6.15 pm. Filing of nomination was to start the very next day.”

The court also directed the state government to invoke Section 251, which will see the appointment of special officers to administer the local bodies till the elections as the terms of the present officers are about to expire soon.

By pointing out the time the notification released, the HC said: ” People cannot be expected to take note of said notice if it happens in the midnight. The government didn’t give sufficient time to the opposition for preparations and has not provided a level playing field. ”

The court also emphasised that the EC has to be vigilant to stop criminals involving in the election. It directed the EC to reject the affidavits of contestants who fail to disclose details of their criminal records.

Responding to the court order,DMK leader Karunanidhi said, “The EC delayed in announcement but rushed in the further procedures. Now the edourt decision will pave way for exercising free and fair elections.”

The EC is expected to file an appeal against the court’s order in the high court soon, media reports revealed.