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HC declines to bar declaration of TN rural local body polls

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Press Trust of India Chennai
: The Tamil Nadu state election commission (SEC) is free to declare the results of elections to rural local bodies, the Madras High Court ruled on Monday.
It dismissed a PIL seeking to prohibit the SEC from releasing the results till the elections to the urban local bodies were conducted.
A vacation bench of Justice S Vaidyanathan and Justice PT Asha said it was too premature for petitioner Satta Panchayat Iyakkam, a non-governmental organisation, to seek such a directive.
The petitioner had submitted if the results were announced it would have a bearing on the election to the urban local bodies, dates of which are yet to be announced.
It would be an unfair election if the results were announced in piecemeal and in instalments. The minds of voters would be influenced and confused. Confusion would not lead to free and fair election, the petitioner had contended.
The bench posed a question as to whether the very same people voting in rural polls were going to cast their vote in the election to urban local bodies.
To this, the petitioner replied in the negative.
Recording the submission, the bench said if the petitioner has any grievance after declaration of the result, he or she can challenge it and dismissed the petition.
The polling for rural local bodies were held from December 27 to December 30 in 27 districts and the results are scheduled to be out on January 2.
Meanwhile, Justice V Parthiban disposed of various petitions raising certain apprehensions over the counting process after recording an undertaking by the SEC that it would withdraw a portion of a circular to the effect that cameras would not focus on ballot paper.
From the assurances of the SEC and other state officials and the commission's various circulars to the counting personnel would unequivocally demonstrate that the respondents have taken sufficient measures to ensure due compliance to the provisions of the Elections Rules of Tamil Nadu Panchayats (Election) Rules, 1995, he said.
Ultimately, the counting process has to be fool-proof so that the objectives of the election rules were achieved, he said.
The petitioners had sought directions for installation of CCTV cameras in the counting centres and adequate police protection among other pleas.
In the Madurai Bench of the high court, where too similar petitions came up for hearing, the SEC submitted it would take steps to video record the counting of votes and all other proceedings in the counting centres.
The commission gave the assurance to a bench of Justices V M Velumani and R Tharani which was hearing petitions seeking video recording of the counting process.
After the counsel for SEC said all the counting centres have CCTV camera facility and it was not possible to arrange to record the counting of votes, the bench asked as to why it was not possible and there was enough time ahead of the counting to arrange for it.
The SEC was an autonomous body and it should function in a just and fair manner, the Judges said.

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First Published: Dec 30 2019 | 10:35 PM IST

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