CHENNAI: The Madras High Court of Tuesday directed the State government to invoke Section 251 - Transitory provision of the Act to administer the local bodies by appointment of special officers till the elections are over, as the present term of the local bodies are to expire soon and the same cannot be extended beyond five years.
Justice N Kirubakaran said that the writ petition will be kept pending for passing (final) orders and to implement the orders passed by the court on Tuesday. Both the government and the SEC shall file action taken reports regarding the compliance of the order, he added and posted the matter in the first week of January, 2017.
Earlier, petitioner R S Bharathi’s senior counsel P Wilson contended that the GOs were made available belatedly only on September 23 and no sufficient time was given to the political parties and to the candidates to get ready for the election. The reservation has also not been made to the Scheduled Tribes, in proportion to their population, he argued.
Conceding the contentions, Justice Kirubakaran pointed out that the intention of the Legislature is clear to give definite interval between the two notifications prescribed under Rule 24 of the Act. The notification under Rule 24(2)(i) should specify the date of the proposed election followed by subsequent notification containing election schedule under Rule 24(1). By no stretch of imagination, both the notifications could be issued on the same day. In this case, the poll schedule was announced at the press meet on September 25 and no notification to the public about the conduct of election was made. As per Rule 24, at least two different dates should be made available. In this case, no notification has been issued by the SEC, notifying the notification of election to be published in the gazette and gazette publication alone was made on September 26, the judge said.
The judge also had a dig at the petitioner by stating that his party, the main opposition in the Assembly, had failed to urge the government and the SEC to take steps in advance to hold the elections and therefore, he is also equally responsible for this situation. The judge also observed that the offices of local bodies are not places for profit-making, but for doing service to the society. “The framers of our Constitution reposed faith in the political leaders and they are only elected by the people, with utmost trust and faith in them. Therefore, it is their duty and responsibility to avoid criminal elements and choose appropriate candidates, who will be in a position to serve the public,” the judge said.