RO can’t order recount after winner is declared’


TAMIL NADU

‘RO can’t order recount after winner is declared’Justices M. Duraiswamy and T. Ravindran allowed the petition filed by Devi and observed that the Returning Officer had no power to entertain an application for recounting under Rule 66 of the Tamil Nadu Panchayat (Election) Rules, 1995, once Form 25 was issued. “In a democratic country like India, people expect officials to remain neutral,” the court said.

B. Tilak ChandarMADURAI 07 FEBRUARY 2020 01:32 ISTUPDATED: 07 FEBRUARY 2020 01:32 IST    

High Court Bench allows petition of M. Devi

Holding that a Returning Officer cannot order a recount after issuing the victory certificate, the Madurai Bench of the Madras High Court on Thursday allowed the petition filed by M. Devi, one of the two candidates who were declared panchayat president- elect in Sankarapuram village panchayat, Sivaganga district.

Two candidates were declared president-elect to the panchayat, that is reserved for woman (general), in the rural local body elections held recently.

Devi and A. Priyadharshini, had both contested for the post of president to the Sankarapuram village panchayat.Advertising

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The petitioner, Devi, said that at about 8 p.m. on the day of the results, she was declared the winner.

However, a recount was done, following a commotion, and at 5 a.m. the next morning, A. Priyadharshini, the other candidate, was declared the winner. Both were issued the certificates (Form 25).

Devi alleged that Priyadharshini was favoured as she was associated with the ruling party and sought a direction to declare the certificate awarded to Priyadharshini null and void.

A Division Bench of Justices M. Duraiswamy and T. Ravindran allowed the petition filed by Devi and observed that the Returning Officer had no power to entertain an application for recounting under Rule 66 of the Tamil Nadu Panchayat (Election) Rules, 1995, once Form 25 was issued. “In a democratic country like India, people expect officials to remain neutral,” the court said.

Election petition

Even assuming that the RO had issued Form 25 certificate, wrongly in favour of the petitioner, Devi, the remedy open to Priyadharshini was to file an election petition under Section 258 of the Tamil Nadu Panchayats Act, 1994. Even the consent of the candidate for recounting after declaration under Form 25 certificate was not permissible.

The unsuccessful candidate can only file an Election Petition, the court said.

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