Declining to extend the May 14 deadline for conducting local body elections in Tamil Nadu, the Madras High Court today warned the State Election Commission of contempt proceedings if it does not to comply with its order.
The First Bench comprising Acting Chief Justice Huluvadi G Ramesh and Justice R M T Teekaa Raman made the observation during the hearing of an impleading petition by Change India, an NGO, that failure to conduct the polls on or before April 25 will be in complete defiance of the Constitution.
On October 4, 2016, a single judge of the high court had set aside the September 26, 2016 election notification issued by the SEC.
The polls, scheduled for October 17 and 19, 2016 were cancelled by the court citing non-compliance with Tamil Nadu Panchayat (Elections) Rules, 1995. The SEC moved an appeal against the single judge’s order.
When the matter came up for hearing in January, the SEC said it would conduct the elections by April.
On February 22, when the SEC submitted that there were some practical difficulties in conducting the polls in April, a division bench of the court had directed it to conduct the polls not later than May 14.
The commission was also directed to “truthfully” comply with the directions issued earlier by a single judge, including making mandatory the filing of affidavits declaring criminal antecedents of candidates and uploading them on the commission s website.
The counsel for SEC made an appeal to the bench today that if the order of the single judge was not stayed it may be constrained to face contempt.
The bench then said, “It is normal that if the court order is not complied with you have to face contempt”. It then posted the matter for next week..
The bench told the counsel for SEC that it has not complied with the order of the single judge or its undertaking before the Division Bench that it will conduct the elections by May 14 and said that it cannot grant any extension of time.
The bench told the SEC that in case of its failure to adhere to the time frame, it would have to face contempt of court proceedings.
( Source – PTI )