CHENNAI: The Madras High Court on Friday refused to grant an interim stay on the elections to the urban civic body polls in Tamil Nadu and deferred hearing on public interest litigation (PIL) petitions to Monday for physical hearing as an exception.
The PILs, including the one filed by retired joint director of Health Department Dr M Nakkeeran , came up for hearing before the first bench of Acting Chief Justice (ACJ) Munishwar Nath Bhandari and Justice PD Audikesavalu.
Representing Nakkeeran, senior counsel S Prabakaran said given the alarming Covid pandemic situation unfolding now the elections can be postponed and nothing is going to be lost if the polls are delayed since the civic bodies had been headless for several years.
He charged the Tamil Nadu State Election Commission (TNSEC) of not taking stock of the ground situation on the surging Covid virus infection before preparing for the polls.
The TNSEC had not even reviewed the number of containment zones in the places where the polls are proposed to be held, Prabakaran flayed.
He further said safety of the life of the citizens is involved in the matter and pitched for delaying the polls by two months so that the situation would ease.
Senior Counsel ARL Sundaresan said when the Supreme Court set the deadline for holding the polls the situation was not similar to the prevailing one.
In the interest of public health, the polls should be delayed, he stressed.
The counsel for TNSEC Siva Shanmugam submitted the poll notification ought to be issued by January 27 as per the orders of the Supreme Court.
He explained that a circular on covid protocol was issued by the poll body and all the standard operating procedures followed during the rural local body polls will be followed.
After hearing the arguments, the bench adjourned the hearing to January 24. It did not grant any interim orders to restrain the issuance of notification or the polls as sought by the petitioners.
The bench allowed the counsels of the petitioners to submit their arguments by physically present at the court as an exception since there were some technical problems troubling audio during the virtual hearing on Friday.
However, the bench said hybrid mode of hearing would also go on simultaneously and the lawyers can prefer the mode as per their choice.