Decks cleared for rural local body polls in 27 districts

The Supreme Court on Friday cleared the decks for rural local bodies in 27 districts in Tamil Nadu. Polling will take place in two phases, on December 27 and 30.

The court gave Tamil Nadu four months to complete delimitation of its nine reconstituted districts and conduct panchayat elections at the village, intermediate and district levels. The districts are: Vellore, Tirupattur, Ranipet, Kancheepuram, Chengalpattu, Villupuram, Kallakurichi, Tirunelveli and Tenkasi.

The AIADMK and the DMK have hailed the verdict. The Tamil Nadu State Election Commission (TNSEC) on Friday issued orders cancelling the poll notification issued by it on December 2 announcing polls in rural local bodies across the State.

A communication from the TNSEC Secretary L. Subramanian also declared as null and void all the election proceedings of the Returning Officers/Assistant Returning Officers so far.

“There shall be no legal impediment against holding elections for panchayats at the village, intermediate and district levels for rest of the districts,” a Bench led by Chief Justice of India Sharad A. Bobde held.

On Thursday, during the case hearing, the Tamil Nadu government blinked when the apex court firmly stood in favour of conducting de novo delimitation for the nine districts before holding elections in them.

In its 13-page judgment, the court reiterated the necessity of conducting fresh delimitation exercise as a follow-up to creation of new districts from existing ones.

Chief Justice Bobde wrote that the constitutional object of Part IX (panchayat system of governance) could not be “effectively achieved unless the delimitation for constitution of local bodies at all levels is properly undertaken.”

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