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Madras HC asks Tamil Nadu election commission to conduct local body polls by 17 November

LiveMint logoLiveMint 04-09-2017 Dharani Thangavelu

Chennai: The Madras high court on Monday directed the Tamil Nadu State Election Commission (TNSEC) to conduct local body polls by 17 November.

Over 131,000 local body posts across the state of Tamil Nadu have been lying vacant since October last year.

Notifications were issued by the TNSEC in September, 2016 and fixed 17 and 19 October (2016) to conduct elections.

Following the opposition Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK)’s petition, the court had observed that the notification on local body polls had been issued “in a rush” and without giving time to political parties to prepare. The HC quashed the commission’s order on the basis of “non compliance of the Tamil Nadu Panchayat (Election) Rules of 1995”.

While it was ordered to complete the elections by 31 December, TNSEC went on to appeal the judgement, to further extend the election date citing some “practical difficulties.”

With opposition parties claiming that the ruling All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (AIADMK) was delaying the conduct of local body elections, the poll has been delayed multiple times.

After the HC, once again issued 14 May as the deadline, the state sought time till July, only to extend it further.

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In a related development, the Tamil Nadu assembly adopted amendment bills in July for setting up a panel to recommend delimitation of wards in local bodies and also suggest quota for women, Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes candidates.

The adoption of these bills, paved the way for extending the term of special officers and indicated the delay to hold elections.

In July, S.P. Velumani, minister for municipal administration and rural development, said the assembly that the TNSEC had requested the government to extend the tenure of the special officers as a “temporary arrangement” for a “maximum period of six months from 30 June,” that is, up to 31 December, 2017.

DMK organisation secretary R.S. Bharathi, one of the petitioners, had submitted a petition in the court stating that bill to form a delimitation commission was introduced in the assembly on 10 July, solely with an intention to delay the local body election process.

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