CHENNAI: The Returning Officer for urban local body polls to a town panchayat in Madurai district was placed under suspension for tampering with the results of vote counting for a ward. The Tamil Nadu State Election Commission (TNSEC) on Monday informed the first bench of Madras High Court, consisting of Chief Justice Munishwar Nath Bhandari and Justice D Bharatha Chakravarthy, of the action taken against the RO for changing the result.
The declaration certificate handed to the respondent contestant was also recalled, the counsel for TNSEC Siva Shanmugam told the bench. Independent candidate R Palaniselvi and DMK candidate K Subbulakshmi ended in a tie as they secured equal votes (284) when counting was completed on February 22 in the T Kallupatti town panchayat. When lots were drawn to decide the winner, it went in favour of Palaniselvi. She was declared winner and the details were uploaded on the website of TNSEC.
However, after sometime, the results were changed to declare the DMK candidate as the winner. Palaniselvi, in her petition before the High Court, alleged that her efforts to confirm her victory did not yield any results as the RO had changed the results under pressure from DMK men. She also complained that the District Collector-cum-District Election Officer also did not take any action on the irregularity.
When the matter came up for hearing last time, the video footage captured on CCTV cameras was viewed by the judges in the open court and they found the lot going in favour of the petitioner. Subsequently, the court ordered the TNSEC to take appropriate action against the RO.
The RO, who appeared before the court after direction from the bench on Monday, submitted that he acted under pressure. Wondering how the pressure was exerted on him, the judges wanted him to file a report while directing the DMK candidate to file a counter-affidavit on the matter and adjourned it by 10 days.