For “deliberately violating” court orders

A contempt petition has been filed before the Madras High Court seeking to punish the State Election Commissioner (SEC) and the Corporation Commissioner/Returning Officer, Chennai, for “deliberately violating” court orders with regard to local body elections on Monday.

Besides this petition, Chennai Mayor M. Subramanian (DMK) and PMK Mayoral candidate A.K. Moorthy have filed writ petitions seeking repoll in 239 booths, a direction to authorities to count the votes polled for the posts of Mayor and Councillors simultaneously, and cancellation of local body elections held on October 17.

Counsel for the petitioners, including P. Wilson, made a mention before the First Bench, comprising Chief Justice M.Y. Eqbal and Justice T.S. Sivagnanam. The matter is likely to come up for hearing on Wednesday.

In the contempt petition, G. Poonkunran stated that on October 14, the First Bench passed an elaborate order on the conduct of the local body elections.

He contended that SEC S. Ayyar and Chennai Corporation Commissioner D. Karthikeyan wantonly failed to draw any plan of action and neglected to implement the court orders in letter and spirit.

The authorities “purposely avoided” installing video cameras. They did not explore the possibility of installing web camera in all polling booths in Chennai. Sufficient number of police personnel from other States and the CRPF were not requisitioned.

Mere eyewash

The SEC's undertaking before the High Court was a mere eyewash and lip service. The court order was violated with impunity for “obvious reasons.”

In its petition, the DMK, represented by its legal wing secretary R.S. Bharathi, stated that the “authorities were not afraid of the court orders but willingly obeyed their political masters.

Elections in 239 booths were not conducted in the manner they should have been. Various incidents had affected the fundamental right of the public in general. Unless repolling was conducted in 239 booths for both the election of Mayor and Councillors, the elections would be a farce.

The Chennai Mayor and DMK Mayoral candidate alleged that 239 booths were captured by AIADMK activists. Voters waiting to exercise their franchise were chased away.

Elections to the Chennai Corporation were vitiated by various election malpractice such as booth capturing and bogus voting.

In spite of representations by him, the authorities did not take action.

Mr. Moorthy, also a former Union Minister of State for Railways, submitted that the SEC was directed to videograph polling in all booths in addition to webcasting the elections in the city.

None of the directions of the High Court was complied with.