CHENNAI: Rejecting Tamil Nadu Governor, K Rosaiah’s recommendation to conduct polling in Aravakurichi and Thanjavur Assembly constituencies before June 1, the Election Commission on Saturday rescinded the election process which will now be conducted afresh “after a reasonable lapse of time”.
Such a development is perhaps happening for the first time in the country’s electoral history. The commission, however, did not stop there. In its 29-page order that was detailed and scathing in equal parts, the Full Bench quoted past judgements by the Supreme Court upholding its authority in conducting elections and said the Governor should not have ventured to send the letter.
Neither the Representation of the People Act, 1951 nor any other law requires the commission to consult the Governor before making any changes in the election calendar, it said.
“With due respect, the Commission is constrained to observe that the Governor should have avoided writing to the Commission on May 26 suggesting early polling in these constituencies.”
The order gave an elaborate account on efforts made by the major parties to distribute cash and gifts to lure voters. It started ever since the notification was issued and continued even when these two constituencies were brought under special surveillance after polling was deferred, it said, giving examples with figures and dates. The commission said it has decided against conducting the election in these two constituencies in an atmosphere “vitiated” by money and gifts of consumable items distributed by the major parties.
The election process here, it added, “ought to be rescinded so that fresh elections may be conducted de-novo when the atmosphere becomes conducive to the holding of free and fair elections after a reasonable lapse of time.”
Allowing the electoral process to proceed in such vitiated atmosphere would severely jeopardize the conduct of free and fair election. It would not be reflective of the true choice of the electorate Election Commission.