Bench orders sufficient police protection

The State government on Thursday submitted before the Madras High Court that videography of the counting of votes in the local body elections will be done.

The submission was made when petitions relating to counting of votes in the elections came up for hearing before a Division Bench of Justices D. Murugesan and K.K. Sasidharan.

In a petition filed through counsel K. Selvaraj and Sugirdha Selvaraj, R. Mohan Raj of S.K. Palayam in Udumalpet taluk stated that in the absence of a specific order to capture on video the counting process, candidates supported by the ruling party were openly declaring that they would emerge winners. His main apprehension was that such candidates “will definitely influence the counting officers” and get themselves declared elected.

The Bench ordered sufficient police protection for counting. It said Advocate-General A. Navaneethakrishnan had submitted that videography would be done in all counting centres. Hence, no direction was required.

The court said that no independent Observers were permissible under the law for the counting of votes. Regarding use of Web camera, the Bench said the plea had been made before the court at the last minute. Hence, no direction could be given.

Regarding simultaneous counting of votes, the Bench said the State Election Commission would follow Tamil Nadu Panchayat Election Rules.

Counting today

The counting of votes in elections held to local bodies to decide the fate of about 4.12 lakh candidates will be taken up on Friday.

The elections were held on Monday and Wednesday in which about 78 per cent of the 4.69 crore voters turned up. The total number of posts covered under the poll process was 1,32,467, of which 1,18,983 were for rural local bodies.

As many as 822 counting centres have been set up, of which 422 are in urban areas. There are 18 centres in Chennai.

Electronic voting machines were, for the first time, used in the elections to all the urban local bodies. Thirty thousand ballot units were deployed for town panchayats and 62,451 for municipal corporations and municipalities. In rural areas, 2.56 lakh ballot boxes were used. Six lakh and thirty thousand staff were employed for the election duty this time.

A release issued by the State Election Commission stated that arrangements for webcasting/videography of the counting were made in Chennai.

The results would be announced through the internet, for which the Commission's website – www.tnsec.tn.nic.in – could be accessed.