civic polls: PILs seek stay on result, enhanced security

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CITYTN civic polls: PILs seek stay on result, enhanced security
Dec 28, 2019, 4:52 IST






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Chennai: As local body polls got under way in rural areas of the state, two PILs — one seeking moratorium on declaring rural poll results till the completion of elections for urban civic bodies, and the other seeking police security and CCTV coverage for strongrooms and counting centres — have been filed in the Madras high court.

While almost all opposition parties, including the DMK, have approached the court seeking direction to the Tamil Nadu State Election Commission (SEC) to ensure fair and transparent counting of votes through adequate police protection and monitoring via CCTV cameras, Satta Panchayat Iyakkam, an NGO, has filed a PIL asking the court to restrain the SEC from declaring results for the elections held in 27 districts till the completion of the poll process for urban local bodies.

Since the court is on Christmas-New Year recess, all the pleas will be taken up for hearing by a vacation bench headed by Justice S Vaidyanathan on December 30.
As per the election notification issued by the commission, polling of votes in rural local bodies would be held on December 27 and 30, and counting would be on January 02, 2020.
According to the petitioners, though the commission is mandated to ensure fair and transparent counting as per the provisions of the Tamil Nadu Panchayat (Election) Rules, 1995, ruling party workers have started to threaten and influence election officials in favour of their candidates.
“There is panic in the minds of the candidates and political parties other than the ruling party as whether election and counting would be conducted in a proper manner. Unless officials are allowed to work in a free and fair manner, results of the election would not be proper. It would ultimately cause serious damage to the democratic election process,” the DMK said in its affidavit.

In many places the ruling AIADMK is abusing its powers to induce election officials to act in support of its party candidates.
A sitting minister has instigated his men to attack workers of another party and they went to the extent of threatening the voters, too, the petitioners said.
Adding that the opposition parties have already made representation to the commission on December 24 to take appropriate steps to ensure fair counting, the petitioner said since so far, the authorities have failed to take such steps they were constrained to move the court.
Representing the NGO, its general secretary Senthil Arumugam submitted that if the commission is permitted to declare the results of one phase of the election it would definitely influence voters of the other phase – urban local bodies.
Claiming that announcement of results would prejudice the minds of voters, he submitted even in the 2019 Lok Sabha election which was conducted in seven phases, results were announced only after conclusion of election in all the phases.
“It will be unfair election if the results are announced in piecemeal and in instalments.

“The minds of voters will be influenced and confused. Confusion will not lead to free and fair election,” he said.
The organisation made a representation to the election commission and since it was not considered it has approached the high court. As an interim relief, the petitioner wanted the court to direct the commission not to announce the results pending disposal of the plea.

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