The Madras High Court on monday directed the Tamil Nadu State Election Commission to complete the local body elections by November 17. The first bench comprising Chief Justice Indira Banerjee and Justice M Sundar ordered the SEC to issue by September 18 the notification for the elections, originally slated to be held in October last year, and complete the entire process by November 17.
The bench was delivering its judgement on an appeal by the SEC against the order of a single judge directing it to hold the local body polls before December 31, 2016 and connected petitions. However, the judges made it clear that this would be subject to the outcome of special leave petitions pending in the Supreme court on the matter.
The bench had reserved its orders on August 1 after going through a report submitted in sealed cover by the SEC complying with the court’s July 26 directive. The polls were slated to be held in October last year but cancelled by Justice N Kirubakaran on a petition by DMK seeking among others appropriate reservation as per latest census and rotation of seats according to the norms.
He had on October 4 last year quashed the poll notification issued by the SEC and issued nine directions as per which the process was to be completed before December 31, 2016.
The SEC had filed an appeal against this order. During the hearing of appeal earlier, SEC’s senior counsel B Kumar had submitted that it was not possible to implement certain directions of the single judge such as scanning and uploading on its website affidavits of the candidates.
He had pointed out that there would be 4.90 lakh candidates and each affidavit would run into 6-10 pages. Among other petitioners, NGO Change India has challenged the constitutional validity of extension of the tenure of special officers, appointed to administer the local bodies after their term ended last year.
Opposition political parties had been criticising the state government over the delay in the conduct of the local body elections.