Only visuals will be recorded during polls, says SEC

DMK insists in court that regular video cameras with audio recording facility should be used

The Tamil Nadu State Election Commission (TNSEC) on Thursday informed the Madras High Court that it had decided to record only visuals and not the audio during indirect elections to be held on Saturday to elect chairpersons and vice-chairpersons to District Panchayats and Panchayat Unions.

The submission was made before Justices M. Sathyanarayanan and R. Hemalatha during a hearing of a public interest litigation petition filed by Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam Legal Wing secretary R. Girirajan, who insisted upon recording the audio track also to prevent possible malpractices during voting.

The petitioner’s counsel R. Neelakandan told the court that the TNSEC had used closed-circuit television cameras (CCTVs) during the recent counting of votes that were cast in the direct elections held for electing ward members to district panchayats and panchayat unions in 27 districts across the State.

Poor quality of images recorded by those CCTV cameras coupled with the absence of audio recording led to the ruling All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam candidates indulging in malpractices, such as declaring themselves as elected in many local bodies despite DMK candidates securing more votes, he alleged.

Now that those ward members would be electing people among them as chairpersons and vice-chairpersons of District Panchayats and Panchayat Unions on January 11, the petitioner insisted on avoiding CCTV cameras and instead using regular video cameras that could record both visuals as well as audio.

Three-tier security

It was also insisted that the ward members should be frisked before they enter the venue of voting and it must be ensured that they do not end up carrying ink or other things that could pave way for malpractices.

A request was also made for a three-tier security, safe handling of ballot boxes and declaration of results immediately after counting.

However, after finding that the case ought not to have been filed as a PIL petition and that it could be treated only as a writ petition, the Division Bench directed the High Court Registry to list the matter before Justice P.D. Audikesavalu, the portfolio judge, on Friday itself since the indirect election was to take place on Saturday.

While passing such order, the Bench recorded the submission of B. Nedunchezhian that the commission had decided to record only the visuals through CCTV cameras during the indirect elections and that the audio would not get recorded.

During the course of arguments, when the judges wanted to know why the petitioner was insisting upon audio recording when almost everyone has a smartphone these days, Mr. Neelakandan said ward members would not be allowed to carry their mobile phones inside the venue of polling.

The SEC told the Madurai Bench of the Madras High Court that the indirect election to the posts of Chairperson and Vice-Chairperson of district panchayat and panchayat unions would be videographed.

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Printable version | Feb 24, 2020 12:18:26 PM |

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