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The Madras High Court today made it clear that it is the duty of the State Election Commission to ask recognised and registered political parties not to field and support candidates with criminal background in civic polls. Justice N Kirubakaran was hearing a batch of petitions seeking various prayers such as providing reservation and delimitation and use of EVMs in local body polls in the state. The court had on October 4 declared the notification for civic polls in the state, which were scheduled for October 17 and 19, as null and void, holding that it violated the Tamil Nadu Panchayat Election Rules. It had directed the SEC to issue a fresh notification for holding local body elections and complete the poll process before December 31 besides issuing various directions including non-selection of candidates with criminal background. B Kumar, senior counsel for the SEC, today submitted that it may not be practicably possible to implement one of the conditions that were imposed with regard to criminal background of the candidates for the present civic polls. The judge in his order said, "Though it is stated that it is practically impossible to implement the direction given as clause 9 that is with regard to the criminal background of the candidate, the direction has been given only to give a sense of responsibility on the political leader who chose candidates for election and whether it would be effective or not is not the concern of the Election Commission." "The Election Commission is to obey the direction given by the court," it said, adding it is always open to the commission to come before the court, if there are any practical difficulties. "This court hopes that the important direction given as clause 9 (with regard to selection of candidates with criminal back ground) would be implemented by writing to the registered and recognised political parties at the earliest without waiting for the elections to be announced." The SEC had already issued notification on September 1, requiring details of candidates including their criminal background by an affidavit. "It is the duty of theelectioncommission to prevent criminal elements getting elected to Parliament, State Assembly andLocalBodies." In exercise of its constitutional power, the SEC should write to recognised and registered parties "asking them not to field and support candidates with criminal background, as many political parties are shamelessly fielding habitual offenders, land grabbers, goondas as candidates...," the judge said and posted the matter for further hearing on January 3.
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