Tamil Nadu

HC stays order suspending Nadigar Sangam elections

Directs that votes should not be counted until further orders

The Madras High Court on Friday stayed the operation of an executive order passed by the Registrar of Societies on Wednesday, indefinitely suspending the elections to the South Indian Artistes Association (popularly known as Nadigar Sangam) scheduled for Sunday.

Justice P.D. Audikesavalu granted the interim stay after he was prima facie satisfied with the submission of the association that the Tamil Nadu Societies Registration Act of 1975 does not empower the Registrar to stall the elections, especially after the notification has been issued.

The judge, however, refused to go into the issue of deciding the venue where the election would be held since Justice N. Anand Venkatesh of the High Court was seized of the matter. He said Nadigar Sangam would be at liberty to obtain appropriate orders from the other judge on the venue.

He also ordered that the votes polled during the elections should not be counted and ballot boxes should be kept in safe custody till he passes further orders next month.

The judge took into consideration that nominations were filed by aspiring candidates and elaborate arrangements made for the conduct of the elections under the supervision of E. Padmanabhan, a retired judge of the High Court, who had been appointed as Election Officer.

‘Trite law’

“As rightly contended by him (senior counsel E. Omprakash representing the Nadigar Sangam), it is a trite law that an electoral process which has commenced shall not normally be interdicted till it reaches its logical conclusion and as such, it would be highly improper to cancel the election at this distance of time,” the judge said.

Pointing out that the Registrar had stalled the elections on the basis of a complaint lodged by “minuscule” number of 62 members, as against 31,72 voters, alleging removal of their names from the electoral rolls, the judge said such disputes could be solved only by a civil court and that a suit was pending in the court.

“When it is contended by the respondents (Registrar and others) that the office-bearers who were elected on October 18, 2015 could not continue in office after October 18, 2018, it does not stand to reason as to why the election of the next set of office-bearers should not be expeditiously completed without brooking any further delay.

“Above all, the respondents cannot be prejudiced in any manner by permitting the election to proceed as any illegality found during the enquiry conducted by the first respondent (Registrar) could always be sought to be rectified by appropriate directions at any point of time.

‘Balance of convenience’

“Hence, this court is of the considered view that expediency demands and balance of convenience certainly lies in allowing the election process to go on till the process of polling is completed and the ballot boxes are kept in safe custody under the supervision of the Election Officer.

“However, in order to balance equities and ensure that third party interests do not get created in the interregnum, the decision regarding permitting the counting of votes alone would have to be deferred for the time being,” the judge said and adjourned hearing in the case to July 8.

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Printable version | Feb 17, 2020 12:19:12 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/tamil-nadu/hc-stays-order-suspending-nadigar-sangam-elections/article28103877.ece

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