The Madras High Court on Thursday rejected a plea to restrain Election Commission of India (ECI) from publishing in the gazette its decision to conduct bypoll for Tiruvarur Assembly constituency, which fell vacant due to death of Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam patriarch M. Karunanidhi last year, on January 28.
A Division Bench of Justices M. Sathyanarayanan and P. Rajamanickam dismissed a petition seeking an interim injunction after refusing to concur with a writ petitioner that the ongoing Gaja Cyclone relief works in the locality and forthcoming Pongal season would hamper the conduct of “free, fair and effective” election.
It is not as if elections had never been conducted during the festival seasons, the judges said and dismissed the petition for interim orders. They, however, kept the main writ petition pending and impleaded the Chief Secretary as one of the respondents to it since the ECI claimed that relief works could be carried out with its permission.
During the course of arguments, the senior judge made an oblique reference to demand from some political parties for conduct of bypoll for 18 constituencies whose MLAs had been disqualified and told the petitioner’s counsel: “On one side you say, people are suffering without elected representatives and on the other you want an election postponed. What is this?”
Later, ECI counsel Niranjan Rajagopalan told the Bench that the Chief Secretary of the State could always write a letter to the commission seeking permission for carrying out relief works and the request would be considered appropriately. He also said, the commission had taken all factors into consideration before deciding the date.
Pointing out that Mr. Karunanidhi, the legislator who had been representing Tiruvarur, had died on August 7, he said, election to the constituency must be conducted before the completion of six months on February 7 as per Constitutional requirements. Hence, there was no way the election could be postponed further, he said.
The writ petition had been filed by V. Sathyanarayanan, 57, general secretary of Cauvery Delta Farmers Consortium, an unregistered association. Asserting that he was not affiliated to any political party, the petitioner claimed that people of Tiruvarur would be denied of cyclone relief and the joy of celebrating pongal during the election campaign.