Tamil Nadu

Madras High Court throws out pleas to put off urban civic polls in Tamil Nadu

The Madras High Court on Tuesday refused to entertain a batch of public interest litigation petitions filed by various individuals, including two physicians, for postponing the urban local bodies elections in Tamil Nadu until the COVID-19 situation improved.

Acting Chief Justice Munishwar Nath Bhandari and Justice P.D. Audikesavalu said judicial discipline required the High Court to keep its hands off when the Supreme Court had on September 27 ordered that an election notification be issued within four months. However, the judges decided to monitor compliance with the COVID-19 protocol by the candidates and the political parties during the campaign and directed the High Court Registry to list the cases 10 days after the election notification was issued.

The court noted that the Tamil Nadu State Election Commission (SEC) had on December 10 imposed elaborate restrictions and ordered that campaigning in large groups would not be permitted and only three persons at a time should go for door-to-door campaign. Therefore, any violation of the protocol could be brought to the notice of the court.

The litigants’ contention that the COVID-19 wave was not at its peak when the Supreme Court passed the order on September 27 and therefore the High Court could interfere with the elections now did not cut ice with the Bench. When the judges wanted to know why the litigants had not approached the Supreme Court, counsel for the litigants replied that they were not parties to the case before the top court.

Counsel also argued that the SEC ought to have approached the Supreme Court to get the elections deferred by apprising it of the high number of COVID-19 cases being recorded in the State. Not in agreement with this submission, the Bench said the SEC could not be compelled to approach the Supreme Court when it had already given an undertaking to conduct the elections within four months and had now taken all precautions.

The judges even rejected the litigants’ plea to pass an interim order deferring the elections by just two weeks so that they could approach the Supreme Court, in the meantime, and obtain an order deferring the elections by three to four months.

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Printable version | May 25, 2022 3:51:59 am | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/tamil-nadu/madras-high-court-throws-out-pleas-to-put-off-urban-civic-polls-in-tamil-nadu/article38326268.ece