Informs court it is duty-bound to prevent distribution of money
Defending its power to issue guidelines named ‘Instructions on expenditure monitoring in elections,' the Election Commission (EC) on Monday submitted before the Madras High Court that it was duty-bound to prevent distribution of money to voters and that it would take all steps to ensure this.
In his common counter, on behalf of EC, to a suo motu writ petition (treated as closed on Monday) and two other writ petitions filed by Thillai Natarajan and State Fisheries Minister K.P.P.Samy, Tamil Nadu Chief Electoral Officer Praveen Kumar said that the power to issue such guidelines could not be questioned.
It was the EC's duty to ensure that law and order was maintained, free and fair elections were held and that money power did not affect the operation of democracy.
To achieve these, the EC had issued the instructions.
If the EC did not take such steps, it would be failing in its constitutional duty to ensure free and fair poll. The High Court could not impose any restrictions on EC's power. Proper safeguards had been provided in the guidelines to ensure that no authorised and level movement of cash was disallowed.
The counter filed through senior counsel representing the EC, G. Rajagopalan, before the First Bench, comprising Chief Justice M.Y. Eqbal and Justice T.S. Sivagnanam, stated that the Commission had taken a policy decision that announcement of results in any of the States would affect directly or indirectly polling in other States. Therefore, it had decided to count the votes after completion of polls in all States.
The EC was entitled to take any decision within its allotted domain, uninfluenced by or independent of the decision taken by any authority. The decision could not be questioned. Fixing the election schedule was strictly in accordance with law.
As regards the posting of Bholanath as Director-General of Police, Tamil Nadu, shifting Letika Saran, the EC submitted there was no bias in the decision.
Mr. Bholanath had been posted as DGP for conducting the elections. It was within the EC's power to nominate any DGP to be in-charge of conduct of elections and the same could not be questioned.
The appointment of Ms. Saran as DGP had no connection with the EC's right to decide who should be the DGP during the election period.
As regards Mr. Samy's petition, the EC said the Returning Officer of the constituency (Tiruvottiyur) had received information that dhotis and saris were being distributed outside the petitioner's house. A flying squad went to the spot and found a crowd outside the house.
The crowd informed the squad that it was waiting to meet the Minister.
At that time, there was no distribution of saris or dhotis. When invited, the squad went inside the house and found people in the first room. The Minister informed the squad that he had not distributed anything. The squad did not go beyond the first room. Later, the squad left the residence.