Chennai: Madras High Court on Tuesday observed that the notification for next month’s local body polls in Tamil Nadu was done ‘in a rush’ without giving breathing time to political parties to prepare themselves and directed the state government to give details of the date of notification and date of nominations in previous polls.
The court, acting on a petition from DMK, seeking to quash the notification, asked the State Election Commission why the polls were announced on Sunday evening and the process of receiving nominations commenced the next day itself, without giving breathing time to political parties and orally observed that it was done ‘in a rush’.
DMK had also sought a direction to Rural Development and Panchayat Raj Department, Tamil Nadu State Election Commission, Director of Town Panchayats, Commissioner of Corporation of Chennai, to conduct the polls by strictly providing adequate reservation to Scheduled Tribes, followed by necessary rotation of seats in all the posts, as mandated in the Constitution.
The party said that under the Constitution, reservation for Scheduled Tribes, both in panchayats and municipalities throughout the state is mandatory, while no reservation was made for STs for the post of District Panchayat presidents and Panchayat Union Presidents.
It alleged that even in Chennai, reservation for STs was not made available.
DMK submitted that the notification was issued on Sunday evening and the process of receiving nominations started the next day. While no time was given to parties, the ruling party, which came to know of the reservations in advance, released the list of candidates on Sunday night itself.
DMK produced an earlier judgement of the Full Court and said the plea is maintainable.The court perused it and pointed out that the order was actually against the then DMK regime.
“You are actually using the bomb which was fired against you,” the court said.
The Advocate General submitted that the writ was not maintainable on two grounds.The first was that there is bar on hearing the election petition particularly after the issue of the election notification.
The other was that the term of local bodies cannot be extended after five years and it is mandatory to conduct the elections before the expiry of current term, he said.
The court however orally observed that there was a rush on the issue of notification and directed the Advocate General to furnish details of the date of notification and the date of nominations in the previous elections.
It then posted the matter for further hearing to 6 October.
On 25 September, the State Election Commission had said that elections to over 1.31 lakh local body posts in Tamil Nadu will be held in two phases on 17 and 19 October.
It had said the nominations would begin on 26 September.
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