R K Nagar bypoll: HC refers another plea to First Bench

R K Nagar bypoll: HC refers another plea to First Bench
R K Nagar bypoll: HC refers another plea to First Bench

The Madras High Court today referred to a bench headed by the chief justice a plea by the DMK seeking to refrain the Election Commission from notifying the R K Nagar Assembly bypoll without taking action against those named in an Income Tax report over alleged bribing of voters.

Justice K Ravichandra Baabu referred the petition filed by DMK functionary Maruthu Ganesh who has alleged that the report included names of some ministers.

Ganesh was the main opposition party’s candidate when the bypoll, necessitated by the death of former chief minister J Jayalalithaa in December last year, was first notified to take place on April 12.

It was later cancelled over allegations of distribution of cash to voters.

The judge, who had earlier referred to the First Bench another plea on the bypolls by the party, expressed the hope that the poll panel would not announce the schedule till the bench headed by the Chief Justice hears the matter.

In his petition, Ganesh details the income tax searches on the premises linked to Tamil Nadu Health Minister C Vijayabaskar in April this year.

The searches led to seizure of documents which allegedly showed routing of about Rs 89 crore to bribe voters of the assembly segment, he said.

Subsequently, the EC directed the Chief Electoral Officer, Tamil Nadu, to register an FIR.

Interestingly, no accused were mentioned in the FIR, but several people were named in the IT report, he alleged.

Senior Counsel P Wilson, who appeared for the petitioner, submitted that though six months have passed, the EC has not been able to register “even an FIR against the persons who have been indicted by the IT Department in its report dated 08.04.2017, and who have directly caused rescinding of the bypoll.”

The petitioner also submitted that in the circumstances, he had already sent a detailed representation to the EC urging it to desist from announcing the schedule without prosecuting those named in the IT report.

The petitioner sought a direction to the Cabinet Secretary to frame guidelines to ensure accountability of the EC for its actions and inactions in exercising its powers under Article 324 of the Constitution and consequently forbear the commission from notifying the bypoll without taking penal action against those named in the IT report.

The judge had earlier referred to the First Bench a plea by DMK organisation secretary R S Bharathi for an interim injunction restraining the EC from announcing or notifying the bypoll schedule to the constituency without carrying out a “purification of voters” list.

He had alleged discrepancies in the voters list for the constituency and sought deletion of “double and multiple entries”, names of deceased voters, among others.

The court had in September directed the EC to conduct “preferably” by December 31 the bypoll to the constituency, which has been lying vacant following the demise Jayalalithaa.

( Source – PTI )

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