Staff Reporter

It cannot be equated with Chennai Corporation elections: Division Bench

MADURAI: The Madras High Court Bench here on Tuesday dismissed two public interest litigation (PIL) petitions to countermand the by-election to Ward 52 of Madurai Corporation. The petitioners had claimed that the September 12 by-poll was marred by violence unleashed by Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam cadres.

A Division Bench comprising Justice K. Ravirajapandian and Justice P.P.S. Janarthana Raja said that the petitions lacked the character of PIL as they were filed by All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam and Communist Party of India (Marxist) candidates.

“PIL jurisdiction cannot be invoked by a person or a body of persons to further personal causes or to satisfy personal grudge and enmity…As the petitioners are having vested interest in the dispute, a pro bono (Latin for public good) cause cannot be maintained,” the Bench said citing a few Supreme Court rulings on the issue.

Writing the judgement, Mr. Justice Ravirajapandian said that the present case cannot be equated with the one in which the High Court had ordered re-election to more than 100 wards of Chennai Corporation last year. Unlike the Chennai elections, the by-poll here was not marred by large scale rigging or booth capturing.

“Courts should not place reliance on previous decisions without discussing as to how the factual situation of the present case fitted in with the factual situation of the decision on which reliance was placed. Observations of Courts should neither be read as Euclid’s theorems nor as provisions of a Statute,” the Judges said.

The observations must be read in the context in which they appear. There was always peril in treating the words of a speech or judgement as if they were words in a legislative enactment. Circumstantial flexibility and even one additional or different fact may make a world of difference between the conclusions in two different cases.

Pointing out that the present petitioners had made only “faint” allegations of unfairness in the election process; the Bench ruled that no monstrosity of situation prevailed in the by-poll held here as observed by the High Court in the case relating to Chennai Corporation elections. “It could be seen from the Election Observer’s report that there was charged atmosphere for some time and the police had not prevented the cadres from entering the restricted area… However, there is no material available on record to prove that there was large scale booth capturing or bogus voting,” the Bench added.

The Judges also pointed out that the uniform legal opinion holding the field for the past fifty years or more on interpretation of relevant Constitutional and Statutory provisions was that the Courts should not interfere with the election process and the aggrieved party could seek remedy only by filing an election petition in the lower court concerned. Stating that the decisions rendered on the issue included those rendered by a Constitution Bench of the Supreme Court as well as a six Judge Bench, Mr. Justice Ravirajapandian said the judgements were bidding on every citizen including the High Court.

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