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Hold civic polls by May 14 or face contempt, High Court warns State Election Commission

Declining to grant any more extension for holding the local body polls, the Madras High Court has warned the Tamil Nadu State Election Commission (TNSEC) of initiating contempt proceedings against it if it fails to hold the local body elections by May 14 as assured by it before a division bench.

Hold civic polls by May 14 or face contempt, High Court warns State Election Commission
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File photo of the Tamil Nadu State Election Commission office

Chennai

The first bench comprising acting Chief Justice Huluvadi G Ramesh and Justice RMT Teekaa Raman while hearing an appeal moved by the TNSEC and the State on seeking extension of time for preparation of the electoral roll said, “It is normal that if a court order is not complied, one has to face Contempt.” The case has been posted for further hearing by a week. 

The appeal is against the single judge’s order to hold the local body polls by December 31, 2016 and thereafter by a division bench by May 14. The TNSEC in its counter has stated that it has already initiated necessary action for the preparation of Photo Electoral Roll for local body elections (2017) which is being executed by National Informatics Centre (NIC) based on the latest Assembly Electoral Roll. 

Pointing out that the test data has been handed over to NIC for compatibility checking, it further submitted that the conversion of data from ECI format to NIC format is a must to facilitate multiple online data entry work in all local institution to be done on NIC servers. 

The data of 5.92 crore voters must be demarcated and assigned to their specific wards in respective town panchayat, village panchayat, municipalities and corporation, the plea said. 

Further on noting that the correlation statement between the Assembly Electoral Roll and Local Body Electoral Roll will be completed by last week of March, 2017, it said that on completing the task of preparing the electoral rolls, necessary action for the conduct of local body elections would be taken in pursuance of the constitutional provisions and after due consultation with the government as per the rules governing local bodies and hence more time is required. 

Earlier, during the hearing senior counsel B Kumar appearing for TNSEC made an appeal to the bench that unless the order of the Single Judge is stayed they may be constrained to face contempt. 

The division bench of justices Nooty Ramamohana Rao and SM Subramian had directed the TNSEC to complete the election process no later than May 14 while passing orders on an appeal moved by it assailing the single judge’s order. It may be noted that during the hearing, the bench had pulled up the TNSEC for dragging the plea saying that the commission is neither interested in conducting the election nor the case.

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