CHENNAI: There is a constitutional breakdown in Tamil Nadu, the DMK alleged in the Madras High Court on Tuesday. When a contempt application seeking to punish the officials concerned for their failure to hold elections to local bodies came up before the first bench of Chief Justice Indira Banerjee and Justice M Sundar, DMK’s senior counsel P Wilson told the judges that the failure on the part of the State Election Commission (SEC) to conduct the elections within the stipulated five years, amounted to a constitutional breakdown.
Representing DMK organising secretary RS Bharathi, counsel made the accusation much to the chagrin of the constitutional authority State Election Commissioner M Malik Feroz Khan and Commission secretary TS Rajasekar, who were present in the court as per earlier orders.
He also alleged that the State government in connivance with SEC, was playing a big game in the matter. The original PIL was heard by the bench and posted for orders on September 1. On that day, there was no sitting and the case was adjourned to September 4. During the intervening holidays (Satuday and Sunday), the government hurriedly brought out an Ordinance repealing certain provisions in TN District Municipalities Act, Chennai Corporation Act, Madurai Corporation Act, Coimbatore Corporation Act and TN Panchayat Act unmindfully.
It told the judges that the elections could not be conducted in view of the orgdinance which divided the areas. Wilson submitted that even after repealing certain provisions, the principal Act empowered the government to divide the areas and issue a notification. This is an executive order, which disturbed the entire proceedings of the court, counsel said.
The SEC could not say that it could not hold the elections in view of the passage of the ordinance. It was the constitutional duty to conduct the election. The SEC could very well ask the government to issue a notification dividing the areas and conduct the election. What was the necessity to bring in an ordinance? The main persons behind it were the Chief Secretary and two other secretaries. The SEC and the government were in no mood to conduct the election. Constitutional obligation requires the conduct of elections. There was a violation of the Constitution. The State government was not bothered about the constitutional requirements, he said.
Another senior counsel NL Rajah, representing PMK, also strengthened the contention of Wilson. The SEC should not plead any excuse. The State has to conduct the election on the basis of the census available. The provisions of the Constitution were very clear. The Supreme Court and the High Court had emphasised it. Therefore, there was a clear break down of the Constitutional machinery, Rajah added. The bench adjourned the matter by a day.