HC asks poll panel to submit asset details of councillors

The Madras High Court on Wednesday directed the Tamil Nadu State Election Commission to submit the statements of declaration of assets made by all elected councillors of the Corporation of Chennai from 2006 to 2016. Justice N. Kirubakaran gave the direction taken aback by an allegation that a Chennai Corporation councillor, who owned multiple residential and commercial properties in the city, was coercing officials to lower the property tax assessment for his buildings.

Posting the plea for further hearing on Friday, the judge, who wanted to ensure that notice to the councillor against whom the allegation was made is served on time, directed the petitioner to serve private notice to him in whatever means available including “speed post, courier, email, WhatsApp, and SMS.”

According to the petitioner, Pon. Thangavel, a resident of Injambakkam, he had suffered enormously during last year’s floods when his house was inundated and lost his personal belongings. He attributed this to corruption by councillors.

He said that on several occasions, he met the Mayor and the Chennai Corporation Commissioner to impress upon them the need to prevent middle men and the councillors in the affairs of the Corporation, whose activities had hampered the basic amenities, which he was entitled as a tax payer.

“The only answer I got was that the Corporation has no proper revenue and I was shocked to learn that the authorities have to act according to the whims and fancies of the councillors. Hence I made enquiries and found that councillor V. Annamalai has misused his official position and forced the authorities to assess tax at a very less amount for his nine properties situated in Injambakkam,” the petitioner alleged.

When the plea came up for hearing, the judge perused the property tax details produced by the petitioner and said, “The records show that all the independent bungalows owned by the councillor have been charged only meagre amounts of Rs. 55 and Rs.110 as property tax.”

Though this court prima facie would find fault with the officials, it has got every reason to believe that the officials would have been coerced to determine the lower tax amount. Hence the entire records are directed to be placed before this court, he added.

Justice Kirubakaran then directed the State Election Commission to produce records of declaration of assets made by V. Annamalai, during the 2011 and 2016 elections. He also sought the asset details of all the other councillors elected between 2006 and 2016.

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Printable version | Sep 27, 2021 6:11:09 PM |

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