The Madras High Court, while setting aside the election of AIADMK candidate from Tiruparankundram A K Bose in November 2016, has said the Election Commission acted as a handmaiden of AIADMK Government in clearing his nomination when it bore only the thumb impression of general secretary J Jayalalitha when she was battling for life and when thumb impression itself was inadmissible.
Justice P Velmurugan also rejected the attestation of Apollo Hospital Dr P Balaji that Jayalalitha, who was then undergoing treatment, affixed the thumb impression on Forms A and B in his presence to certify that Bose was the party candidate.
Passing strictures against the returning officer for allowing a defective nomination, the court said it was unfortunate that a supposedly independent body like the Election Commission” acted a mouthpiece” of the ruling party.
He said neither the EC nor the chief electoral officer of Tamil Nadu took any step to know the physical and mental state of Jayalalitha. The AIADMK chairman Madhusudhanan also did not annex any medical certificate .
Instead the EC permitted the thumb impression on the nomination papers attested by a medical officer which itself contrary to the laws lay down by the Supreme Court. Further, the name of Dr Balaji was not specified by the EC.
The judge said as Jayalaltha herself was no more, there was no way to know whether she was conscious when she affixed the thumb impression on the nomination, the judge said.
Rejecting DMK candidate Dr Saravanan’s plea to declare him winner, the judge said even if the nomination of Bose had been rejected, it could not be assumed that all his votes would have gone to the DMK as it was a multi-cornered contest.
Moreover, as the election had been set aside not for any electoral malpractice but because of defective nomination, the seat was deemed to have fallen vacant, the court said.
The judgment has come rather late in the day as Bose himself passed away in August 2018 and the EC had so far kept the by-election on, citing this case. Reacting to the judgment, senior counsel and former additional advocate-general P Wilson has said the EC can now hold the stalled by-election.
Bose was not the only AIADMK candidate to have won during that period when Jayalalitha was in hospital. Two other candidates from Kallakurichi and Thanjavur also got similar authorisation letter and their nominations also had been accepted by the EC. However, Senthil Balaji who won from Kallakurichi as well as the Thanjavur has since been disqualified by the Speaker.
The counsel said that Dr Balaji who attested Jayalalitha’s thumb can be prosecuted.