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Take onus and cleanse poll process: HC to ECI
Pointing out that baby steps in election reforms have to begin from the Election Commission of India (ECI), which is bestowed with autonomy and far-reaching powers, the Madras High Court on Monday asked it to cleanse the election system and not pass the buck.
The first bench comprising Chief Justice Sanjib Banerjee and Justice Senthilkumar Ramamoorthy made the observation following ECI’s submission regarding a complaint about alleged false declaration in former minister KC Veeramani’s nomination papers, which was disposed of with a direction to approach a magistrate court. The ECI counsel submitted that as it has to depend on State machinery to carry forward and prosecute complaints, it has stopped dealing with such matters since 1966.
Expressing dissatisfaction over the submission that any contesting candidates could make false declaration and that ECI would not take any action, the bench said when sufficient material is furnished indicating a motive to conceal accurate information, the ECI, with its wide authority and power, should look into the matter. It should do this so that candidates remained accountable in furnishing accurate declarations, and true and wholesome information, the bench added.
“If these are not addressed by the Commission itself, then despite its independent status and wide-reaching powers, there may be no cleansing of the election system,” the bench stressed.
The court issued notice to Veeramani and other official respondents returnable by a fortnight. However, at the close of court hours, the ECI counsel submitted that the Commission was set to take up the issue and hence prayed for suitable orders. But the Chief Justice said that the issue would be taken up on Wednesday to record it, but its observations would remain.
The petitioner had contended that Veeramani, who contested and lost from Jolarpet, had furnished the PAN number of his daughter in place of his wife. His father-in-law, though shown as a dependent in the ration card, was absent in the declaration to conceal the couple of crores he had donated. But the ECI had turned a blind eye, the complainant had alleged.