CHENNAI: Madras High Court on Friday ordered the State Election Commission (SEC) to respond to the representation made by the principal opposition party, AIADMK, on its demands for nominating Central and other State officers as poll observers, deploying Central forces for security and electronic surveillance of the poll process for ensuring free and fair polls for the rural civic bodies.
Admitting a petition filed by AIADMK’s election wing deputy secretary IS Inbadurai, the first bench of Chief Justice Sanjib Banerjee and Justice PD Audikesavalu ordered the SEC to submit its reply to the representation submitted to the commission on 14 September. “… the State Election Commission should respond to the representation of the petitioner within a week from date (today),” the bench said.
The SEC should ensure a free and fair poll so that the people have the right to exercise the franchise of their choice, the court observed.
“The only thing is that, as far as we are concerned, you must ensure a free and fair poll where the people have the right to exercise their choice and that choice has to be respected,” the bench said.
Issuing orders to issue notices to the concerned authorities including the SEC, the bench directed SEC to file a reply on September 29 and posted the matter to September 30.
Senior counsel Vijay Narayan, appearing for AIADMK, stressed that at least one observer per panchayat union must be nominated and they should be drawn from the services of Centre or other State governments. He wanted Central security forces be deployed for guarding the strong rooms where ballot boxes would be kept after the polling and electronic surveillance using webcameras and CCTVs on the poll process.
He also said the SEC has not responded to the memorandum submitted by AIADMK on 14 September.
The petition sought the court to issue orders to the TNSEC to take steps to ensure fair polls as sought in the September 14 representation.
It may be noted that polls to rural civic bodies in Kancheepuram, Chengalpet, Ranipet, Vellore, Tirupathur, Villupuram, Kallakurichi, Tirunelveli and Tenkasi have been scheduled to be held on 6 and 9 October in two phases. The filing of nomination papers to contest for district panchayats, panchayat unions and village panchayats commenced on 15 September and will conclude on 22 September.