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Assistant Returning Officer relieved of election duty
Madurai Corporation suggests new names for ARO post
MADURAI: The nominations of Communist Party of India (Marxist) candidate K. Chandrasekaran and an Independent, Gounder, for the by-election to Ward 45 of the Madurai Corporation were accepted on Monday following a direction from the State Election Commission. The Corporation Assistant Commissioner (East Zone) and Assistant Returning Officer, Angayarkanni, who had earlier rejected the nominations, would be relieved of election duty.
The rejection of nominations created a furore with the CPI (M) saying that no valid reason was given by election officials. The papers filed by the Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam candidate were accepted, which would have ensured her election unopposed.
Corporation Commissioner and Returning Officer S. Sebastine said that he had cancelled the orders of ARO rejecting the nominations. “This follows the directions of the State Election Commission,” Mr. Sebastine said. “We have sent a panel of three officers for the post to the State Election Commission. The Commission will appoint one of them as the ARO,” Mr. Sebastine said.
Three candidates, including the DMK's G. Murugeswari, are now in the fray for the January 10 election.
At the Madras High Court Bench, Mr. Chandrasekaran filed a writ petition challenging the rejection. A request was made before Justice K.K. Sasidharan to take up the case on the same day considering the urgency. In the affidavit, filed through his counsel L. Shaji Chellan, the petitioner claimed that the ARO had rejected his application without passing any written order and was also contemplating declaration of the DMK candidate as an unopposed winner.
Acceding to the request, the judge directed the High Court Registry to post the case by 1 p.m. when Corporation counsel M. Ravishankar vehemently objected to filing of the writ petition and claimed that the High Court had no powers to issue a writ in election matters and the only course available to the petitioner was to approach the District Court by filing an election petition.
Later, the matter was adjourned to 2.30 p.m. when Veera Kathiravan, counsel for the DMK candidate, produced an order passed by the election officials rejecting the CPI(M) candidate's application on three grounds.
Firstly, it stated that he did not fill up the application properly. Secondly, his name in the application did not tally with that in the voter's identity card. Lastly, it was claimed that the property details given in the application did not match the Corporation records.
Replying to it, the petitioner's counsel said that his client had completed the application in full and had not failed to sign the declaration document as claimed by the officials. He further said that there was a disparity in property records because it was a family property registered in the name of the petitioner's father.
Counsel agreed that his client's name was mentioned as K. Chandrasekar in the voter's list though his real name was K. Chandrasekaran. But this was only a minor and negligible difference that did not warrant rejection of an election application, he argued. Later, the judge asked the Corporation counsel to produce the applications filed by other candidates and adjourned the matter by 4 p.m.
However, when the matter was taken up in the evening, counsel represented that acting on a telegram sent by the petitioner, the State Election Commission had sent a fax message directing Corporation officials to permit the CPI (M) candidate to participate in the election. He also said that the ARO would abide by the Election Commission's directive.
Thereafter, the judge disposed of the case by recording the undertaking given by the counsel.
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