Tamil Nadu

Supreme Court sets September 15 deadline for civic polls in 9 new districts

The Supreme Court on Tuesday directed the Tamil Nadu State Election Commission to complete the delayed local bodies elections in nine new districts of the State by September 15.

“We grant extension of time till September 15, 2021, to complete the entire process, including publication/notification of election schedule and the result thereof, before September 15, 2021, as the constitutional mandate to conduct elections in the time-bound manner cannot be defeated in this manner,” a Vacation Bench of Justices Hemant Gupta and Aniruddha Bose said.

The court was not impressed with the State Election Commission’s fervent pleas that COVID-19 was at its peak in the State. “COVID has become a good excuse in all matters. For two years, you have not conducted the elections... Now you conduct the elections before the third wave arrives... We know the reality in these matters; unless and until political parties are ready, elections are not held,” Justice Gupta said.

The court said the notification for the elections was issued in 2019. The tenure of the previous local bodies ended in 2018-19. “This court granted four months’ time to delimit the nine newly constituted districts in accordance with law and thereafter hold elections for their panchayats at the village, intermediate and district levels on December 6, 2019. Instead of four months’ time, the respondents have taken a little more than 18 months and now seek six months to complete the exercise of conducting elections,” Justice Gupta observed.

Appearing for the State Election Commission, senior advocate P. Narasimha said the local bodies elections had already been held, and then the nine districts were created. The delimitation had to be done before holding the elections. There was no delay on the part of the State Election Commission. The pandemic had hit the State in the meanwhile.

The court initially said the elections in the districts should be held in two months by August 31. Mr. Narasimha said two months was too short a period. He urged for more time. The election machinery had been moved to West Bengal for the recent Assembly election, and it would take time for it to be set up in Tamil Nadu. “This is not about the efficiency of administration. It is a health matter... Tamil Nadu is having the highest number of COVID cases,” he said.

Senior advocate P. Wilson, for Tamil Nadu, agreed with Mr. Narasimha, submitting that considering the “unusual circumstances [caused by COVID-19], what the SEC says was true”.

Justice Gupta, however, stood firm initially. “If you do not want August 31, then we will say August 15.” However, the Bench had a short discussion, after which Justice Gupta informed the lawyers that Justice Bose was agreeable to the extension of the deadline to September 15. “We grant extension of time till September 15 to complete the entire process,” Justice Gupta said in the order.

In December last year, the court granted an extension of six months to complete the delimitation and conduct the elections in the nine districts. A Bench, led by the then Chief Justice of India Sharad A. Bobde, had allowed an application filed by the State Election Commission to complete the delimitation which was interrupted by the outbreak of the pandemic in March.

The court had on December 11 last ordered the completion of the delimitation in the nine districts in three months. The districts are Kancheepuram, Chengalpattu, Vellore, Tirupathur, Ranipet, Villupuram, Kallakurichi, Tirunelveli and Tenkasi.


Our code of editorial values

Related Topics
This article is closed for comments.
Please Email the Editor

Printable version | Jul 29, 2021 11:51:58 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/tamil-nadu/supreme-court-sets-september-15-deadline-for-civic-polls-in-9-new-districts/article34919929.ece

Next Story