Staff Reporter

MADURAI: The Madras High Court Bench here on Monday reserved its verdict on two public interest litigation (PIL) petitions to countermand the by-poll to Ward 52 of Madurai Corporation. The polling held on September 12 was marred by violence.

A Division Bench comprising Justice K. Ravirajapandian and Justice P.P.S. Janarthana Raja reserved its orders, without mentioning a date, after hearing marathon arguments spanning over four hours.

Pointing out that both the petitioners were contestants in the by-poll, the senior judge in the Bench told one of their counsels that the cases seemed more a vested interest litigation than public interest litigation.

K. Mahendran, counsel for All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam candidate, said that no one from among the public would dare to approach the court against the violence unleashed by ruling party (Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam) cadres.

He also cited a Full Bench (three judges) judgement in which re-election was ordered to 100 wards of Chennai Corporation marred by rigging last year and said that the High Court could intervene when there was no free and fair election. Counsel for the Communist Party of India (Marxist) candidate stated that several criminal cases had been registered in connection with violence on the day of polling. The incidents were widely reported in many newspapers.

Taking strong exception to the arguments, Additional Advocate General T. Raja said that the court need not go into the merits of the PIL petitions as they deserved to be dismissed outright for not satisfying the basic requisite of maintainability.

Referring to an array of Supreme Court decisions, he said that the petitioners could not invoke the writ jurisdiction of the High Court without exhausting the alternative remedy of approaching the lower court concerned through election petitions.

Earlier, the AAG also vehemently opposed a plea made by the petitioners’ counsel to adjourn the case. “They want to prolong the matter. Five adjournments had been taken so far after obtaining interim orders,” he said.

A Division Bench on October 19 directed the State Election Commission not to declare the results of the by-election for two weeks. Subsequently, the interim order was extended until further orders.