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Courts "not empowered to oversee polls"

Staff Reporter

Judicial review cannot be extended, say judges


  • "Court cannot conduct elections"
  • "We've got our limitations"

    MADURAI: Courts cannot appoint or direct the authorities to appoint observers to monitor indirect elections to local bodies as it would amount to usurping powers of the State Election Commission (SEC), the Madurai Bench of the Madras High Court has ruled.

    A Division Bench comprising Justice D. Murugesan and Justice P. Murgesen passed the order on Friday while disposing of two public interest petitions seeking a direction to appoint observers to supervise re-polling to the posts of chairperson of the Sivaganga Municipality and the Andipatti panchayat union in Theni district scheduled on November 13.

    The Judges said the Constitution of India, which demarcates the powers of different authorities, did not empower the courts to oversee the elections. "Power of judicial review cannot be extended even to supervise the polling process," they said.

    Nevertheless, considering the fact that the elections to the posts of chairman, held on October 28, were postponed due to some untoward incidents, the Bench directed the SEC to take necessary steps to ensure a free and fair re-poll.

    Earlier during arguments, one of the petitioner's counsel argued that the High Courts enjoyed wide powers under Article 226 of the Constitution of India. To this, Justice Murugesan replied: "Just because we have wide powers, can we direct the arrest of everybody who enters the court premises? We've got our limitations."

    Courts should show utmost restraint in election matters and they could interfere only if the State Election Commission had failed to perform its duty, the Judges observed and added: "Court cannot conduct elections. It is the job of the Election Commission."

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