Setting precedent, RO collects differently-abled person’s nomination

RARE GESTURE: Returning Officer R.Kirlosh Kumar receiving nomination from a differently-abled candidate outside his chamber at the Collectorate in Cuddalore on Wednesday.

RARE GESTURE: Returning Officer R.Kirlosh Kumar receiving nomination from a differently-abled candidate outside his chamber at the Collectorate in Cuddalore on Wednesday.

Collector R. Kirlosh Kumar, who is also the Returning Officer of the Cuddalore parliamentary constituency, faced an embarrassing situation when a differently-abled candidate P. Govindasamy (48) came to file his nomination papers on Wednesday.

Since the Collector’s chamber is located on the first floor of the colonial red-bricked building Mr. Govindasamy found it difficult to climb the staircase as he is disabled in a leg. Hence, he made an appeal to the Collector to come down to receive the nominations.

Mr. Kirlosh Kumar did not concede the demand on the pretext that as per the election rules he ought to stay on in his chamber between 11am and 3pm to receive the nominations and as such he could not stir out of the place.

Rather he suggested that if the candidate so wished one of the two wheelchairs provided at the ground floor could be used for lifting him to his chamber. But Mr. Govindasamy did not agree as he did not want to be treated in such an undignified manner.

The candidate stood his ground that if the Returning Officer did not come down to receive the nominations he would not file his papers. Mr. Govindasamy also stated that in accordance with the Election Commission guidelines the Returning Officer should have incorporated differently-abled friendly features in the building but no such thing was done.

Mr. Kirlosh Kumar brought the issue to the notice of the Election Commission of India. The Collector told The Hindu that in Form 6 issued soon after the poll schedule was announced it was clearly stated that nominations would be accepted only in his chamber and nowhere else.

In case the Returning Officer could not be present on that day for health reasons he could depute the Assistant Returning Officer to receive the nominations, but again only in the Collector’s chamber. Since, the issue was quite peculiar in nature it was referred to the Election Commission which after due deliberations permitted Mr. Kirlosh Kumar to go to the ground floor to receive the nomination papers from Mr. Govindasamy.

It took about two hours for getting clearance on this issue. However, soon after getting the papers from the candidate at the ground floor the Collector asked one of the proposers to come to his chamber to complete the other formalities such as paying the deposit amount and the preliminary scrutiny of the papers.

Mr. Kirlosh Kumar also said, “The grievance petition hall located in the same premises has been provided with a ramp. Once the new Collectorate complex comes up (now under construction on the Sugarcane Research Centre of the Tamil Nadu Agricultural University here) such a problem would not arise because lift facility would be provided there.”

State vice-president of the Federation of Differently-abled Persons’ Association T.M.N. Deepak, who accompanied the candidate, said that had the Returning Officer failed to do so the Federation would have gone to the Supreme Court.

He said when he took up the issue with the Collector the latter reportedly told him that during election time the Returning Officer was bound only by the rules framed by the Election Commission. All said and done the incident has set a precedent for others to follow and made the polling officials to have a rethink on making provision for differently-abled candidates.

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Printable version | Jun 27, 2022 8:10:17 am | https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/puducherry/setting-precedent-ro-collects-differentlyabled-persons-nomination/article5866499.ece