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The Election Commission’s decision to cancel the elections in the Vellore constituency, originally scheduled to be held tomorrow, has been upheld by the Madras High Court.
The Election Commission had issued a notification yesterday intimating that the Vellore polls had been canceled after the President of India accepted the Commission’s recommendation in this regard. The recommendation was made after large stashes of cash were seized from places connected with Kathir Anand, the Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK) candidate from Vellore, hinting that there was a systematic design to influence voters.
The Bench of Justices S Manikumar and Subramonium Prasad today dismissed pleas, challenging the Election Commission’s decision, by C Shanmugham of the All India Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (AIADMK) and K Sugukumar, an independent candidate.
The petitioners had contended that the decision to cancel the Vellore polls was arbitrary, disproportionate and unconstitutional. It was their case that in this case, the Commission could only have acted to disqualify the candidate found indulging in corrupt practices.
The Election Commission, however, submitted that it had acted within its powers and that the Court could not sit in judicial review over the same.
Senior Advocate Satish Parasaran appeared for the petitioners, whereas the Election Commission of India made its submissions through standing counsel, Niranjan Rajagopalan.
After hearing submissions, the Bench had posted the matter for orders at 4.30 pm today. It proceeded to dismiss both pleas challenging the Election Commission’s notification.
Raids carried out at the premises of DMK party treasurer, Durai Muruagan and his son Kathir Anand had led the authorities to believe that there was a cash-for-votes plan at play. The Kingston medical college, run by the Durai Murugan Educational Trust and the premises of relatives and close associates were also searched.
The searches combined with intelligence reports eventually led to the submission of a report which stated that a systematic design to influence voters through inducements had been unearthed. On April 8, a Special Expenditure Observer opined that the situation was not conducive for the conduct of free and fair elections. On April 12, the Chief Election Officer at Tamil Nadu expressed a similar view, stating that the cash seizure of Rs 11.48 Crores, along with other evidence suggested a design to induce voters in the Vellore constituency on a large scale.
This had led the Election Commission to cancel Vellore polls. A notification issued yesterday informed that the President had also given the green signal to cancel the Vellore elections.
Read the ECI Notification issued yesterday regarding Vellore Polls: