The Madras High Court today granted an interim stay on the proceedings against former Tamil Nadu Chief Minister and DMK president M Karunanidhi, in which he was issued summons by the Judicial Magistrate of Thiruvarur in a poll—related matter.

When the matter came up for hearing today, Justice C T Selvam granted an interim stay and further exempted Karunanidhi from personally appearing in the case.

The DMK leader had challenged the summons issued to him by Judicial Magistrate of Thiruvarur, taking cognisance of a complaint filed by Returning Officer of Thiruvarur Assembly constituency against the leader.

The Returning Officer on Dec 31 2013 filed a complaint with the Magistrate, alleging that Karunanidhi had not furnished particulars about certain properties while filing his nomination papers for the April 13, 2011 Assembly polls.

The Magistrate, who took cognisance of the complaint, had issued summons to Karunanidhi on Jan 3 this year, asking him to appear before the court on March 7.

In his petition, Karunanidhi submitted the complaint was contrary to the March 27, 2003 directions of the Election Commission and against a Supreme Court judgement.

He submitted that nomination papers cannot be rejected even if there was any failure or suppression in disclosure of any asset of a candidate as per the direction of ECI.

The affidavit to be filed while submitting nomination paper as per Section 33—A of Representation of People Act only require candidates to furnish information on pending criminal cases and does not require information relating to assets of the candidate, Karunanidhi contended.

He said the failure to give information as per the Section makes it an offence under 125—A of the above act and liable to be prosecuted.

He contended that the Returning Officer had filed this complaint in contravention of the ECI circular.

Karunanidhi contended that election officers are deemed to be on deputation to EC for a period commencing on and from the date of notification calling for election and ending with date of declaration of the results. The status of the officer ends on the date of declaration of results, he contended.

The officer cannot file a complaint now calling himself as Returning Officer as the declaration of results was over by May 13, 2011, and he has no locus standi to file complaint against him, Karunanidhi contended.

He pointed out that the complaint had to be filed within one year from the alleged commission of offence and prayed to quash the summons issued to him in consequence of the “illegal cognisance” taken by the Judicial Magistrate.