The first bench comprising Chief Justice Indira Banerjee and Justice M Sundar, while disposing a public interest litigation moved in this regard, said, “It is expected that ECI will announce the election date at the earliest and conduct the election preferably before December 31.” The bench while observing that the petitioner K K Ramesh, being a resident of Madurai, cannot seek a direction to hold elections in RK Nagar Constituency in Chennai, also noted “ECI can’t postpone the elections forever without any end in sight.” Earlier, the counsel appearing for the petitioner contended that as per section 151A of the Representation of the People Act, 1951, a bye-election for filling a vacancy shall be held within a period of six months from the date of the occurrence of the vacancy.
He also held that there can’t be any taxation without representation and that the ECI can’t afford to offer excuses in not holding the by-election in RK Nagar, while elections to Aravakuruchi and Thanjavur were held after cancelling polls on similar grounds.
The Counsel appearing for the ECI, submitted that ECI had taken steps to hold the by-polls within six months. But the rampant cash-for-vote led to its cancellation. Based on this, the ECI on June 2 had passed an order revealing that the situation was not conducive to hold the elections.
He also noted that the outcome of the Income Tax raid which led to the exposure of huge cash transactions in the Constituency and the FIR filed in this regard is still pending. He also submitted that their mandate is to hold free and fair elections and the situation in the constituency was still not conducive to hold the elections.
However, while the petitioner’s counsel pointed out that the by election cannot be put on hold until the investigation is complete as it might take a number of years for the probe to reach a final stage, Justice M Sundar, part of the bench, raised a pointed question as to what efforts the ECI had taken after June 2 in holding the elections. He also sought to know as to when the Election Commission of India intended to hold the elections.
To this, the ECI’s counsel informed the court that he would have to obtain instructions from the Commission.