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SC reserves orders on local body polls
Tamil Nadu

SC reserves orders on local body polls

S.Murari

The Supreme Court on Thursday reserved orders on a petition by the DMK to stay State Election Commission’s notification to hold elections on Dec 27 and 30 to rural local bodies

The first bench comprising Chief Justice S A Bobde and Justices B R Gavai and Surya Kant, reserved orders after hearing the DMK and the State Election Commission which said it was ready to hold polls in all districts except in newly created ones where delimitation of wards is yet to be done.

The bench said the order would be posted on website before midnight. This is because the election commission has already been set the poll process in motion. During the hearing, the judges asked Ariyama Sundaram, representing the State Election Commission, why the polls had not been held for the past three years and why new districts had been created ahead of the polls and why delimitation of wards was not completed.

The DMK opposed holding of polls piecemeal and wanted them to be held in the entire State at one go after completion of delimitation of ward. It also challenged the Dec 2 poll notification not only on the ground that delimitation of wards was yet to begin in the new five districts carved out of nine old ones but also because no provision had been made for reservations for Scheduled Castes and Tribes and Women .

The judges seemed inclined to accept the plea of the State Election Commission that it was ready to hold the elections except in the newly created districts districts where delimitation of wards is yet to be done.

This was because the State Election Commission notified the polls on Dec 2 mainly because the court, on the DMK petition, set a deadline of Dec 18 for announcing the schedule.

However, the election commission announced polls in two phases on Dec 27 and 30, that too only for rural local bodies and said dates for urban bodies would be fixed in February next year.

The Government also through an ordinance, made election of mayors and chairpersons of urban local bodies like corporations, municipalities and town panchayats indirect, that is through elected ward members. Therefore, delimitation of wards assumed significance.

Anticipating the poll announcement, the Government created five new districts out of nine existing districts in a span of one month. Former Villupuram district collector R Palanisami, who was returning officer for the recent Vikhravandi by-election, was recently made chairman of the State Election Commission.

After the commission notified the polls on Dec 2, the DMK filed an urgent interlocutory petition, seeking a stay in the entire poll process till the delimitation of wards was completed and reservations made for SCs/STs and women

Senior advocate Ariayama Sundaram , representing the State Election Commission, said the polls were being held after a gap of three years and the commission was ready to hold them after excluding the newly districts where delimitation was yet to be undertaken.

The judges seemed inclined to accept this plea to obviate further delay.