The Madras High Court today
dismissed various petitions seeking a direction to collect
expenses incurred in polls from candidates, who allegedly indulged in corrupt practices in Aravakuruchi and Thanjavur assembly constituencies in Tamil Nadu, resulting in cancellation of the elections in 2016.
The First Bench comprising Chief Justice Indira Banerjee and Justice M Sundar which dismissed the petitions, in its order said, "It is true that unscrupulous candidates contesting elections should not be allowed to go scot-free when they disrupt elections and thereby cause huge wasteful expenditure to the state exchequer."
However, public interest litigations cannot be stretched to take over all acts of governance, the bench said.
In a country governed by a Constitution, of which separation of powers between the Legislatures, the Executive and the Judiciary is a basic feature, this court cannot take over legislative or executive functions, the bench said.
It is for the Legislature to enact a law to provide for recovery of waste of public money caused by wrongful acts of contesting candidates, the bench said.
"May be the Election Commission with its wide powers to ensure free and fair elections might make a recommendation for suitable enactment and/or amendment of law. However, until such law is passed, this court cannot pass orders as prayed for and these writ petitions are dismissed," it said.
Elections to the two constituencies were postponed and ultimately, were cancelled by an order dated May 27 of the Election Commission on the reports of corrupt practices by the candidates of the major political parties - AIADMK and DMK.
Hence, some independent candidates and others filed a PIL seeking a direction from the court to collect the expenses incurred to the government and other parties from the candidates who indulged in corrupt practices which resulted in the cancellation of the elections.
The First Bench dismissed the PILs after referring to various provisions of Representation of People's Act.
It said in the order, "there is no specific provision in the Constitution or in the 1951 Act for recovery of expenses incurred by the Election Commission and/or by the State for preparation for elections from a candidate whose alleged acts lead to deferment or cancellation of elections."
The Bench further said, "in the instant case, there are no international conventions with regard to realisation of costs of postponement and/or cancellation of elections from the person responsible for postponement and/or Cancellation."
Non-recovery from errant contesting candidates of the costs of postponement or cancellation of election, incurred by the state does not infringe any legal or fundamental right," it added.
The assembly elections in Tamil Nadu were held on May 16, 2016. The Election Commission had on two occasions postponed polls to Aravakurichi and Thanjavur constituencies following reports of large-scale distribution of money and gifts to voters by the candidates and political parties.
Initially, the polls in the two constituencies were postponed from May 16 to May 23, 2016. On May 21, EC decided to once again postpone the polls to June 13. Later, the polling was cancelled and held in November that year.
(This story has not been edited by Business Standard staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)