The Madras High Court has directed Tamil Nadu government to pass orders on or before May 14 on a representation of a prisoner seeking parole for canvassing as he is contesting as an independent in the May 16 assembly election.
Justice V Bharathidasan gave the direction on a petition filed by the sister of Dhanasekharan, contesting as an independent in Thiruvottiyur constituency, seeking grant of parole to him to effectively canvass votes for the Diamond symbol allotted by Election Commission.
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“Since the election is to be held on May 16, the Home Secretary, the third respondent is directed to pass orders on the representation of the petitioner dated May 9 on or before May 14,” the judge said.
Dhanasekharan, who is facing several criminal cases, has been detained under Goondas Act and is lodged in Central Prison, Puzhal.
The prisoner submitted that he had filed his nomination to contest the polls from Thiruvottiyur constituency in Thiruvallur district.
The Returning Officer had accepted his nomination and he was allotted the Diamond symbol.
Dhanasekaran submitted he has every right to campaign in his constituency as his nomination has been accepted.
He said he had submitted a representation to the Home Secretary on May 9 to allow him to go on parole to appoint booth agents and also to tour his constituency but this was not considered and so he moved the court.
When the matter came up yesterday, Additional Public Prosecutor Maharaja submitted that the prisoner is a ‘goonda’ and involved in a number of criminal cases.
He further submitted that if parole was granted, peace and tranquility in the constituency would be affected.
Election Commission’s counsel Niranajan Rajagopalan submitted that contesting an election is only a statutory right and under Section 62(5) of the RPA, a person confined in prison, whether under sentence of imprisonment or in lawful custody of police, has no right to vote. However an exemption was given to persons subjected to preventive detention.
He also submitted that under Section 60(d) of RPA, any person subjected to preventive detention has a right to vote by postal ballot. Apart from the above, there was no other statutory right conferred on the detenu.
The Judge heard both sides without going into the merits of the case and said that since the petitioner had made a representation to the authority as early as May 9 seeking parole, which is pending, “the Home Secretary is directed to pass orders on or before May 14 on the representation of the prisoner.”