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HC upholds cancellation of LS poll in Vellore seat by EC

The Madras High Court Wednesday upheld the Election Commission's decision cancelling the election in Tamil Nadu's Vellore Lok Sabha constituency.

A bench of justices S Manikumar and Subramonium Prasad dismissed petitions filed by AIADMK-led alliance candidate in the constituency, A C Shanmugham, and an Independent, K Sugumar, seeking to set aside the order cancelling the election which was slated for Thursday.

The EC had on Tuesday cancelled the polls in Vellore -- one of the 39 Lok Sabha constituencies in the state -- over allegations of excess use of money power.

President Ram Nath Kovind had rescinded the notification to hold election to the seat based on an EC recommendation after "black money" worth Rs 11.53 crore, allegedly linked to DMK candidate Kathir Anand, was seized by the Income Tax Department on the intervening night of March 29-30.

When the petitions were taken up for urgent hearing, the counsel for the EC submitted a report in a sealed cover to the court.

Citing a Supreme Court verdict in its order, the bench said, "Legislatures are no Prophets, but pragmatic. Hence, comprehensive provisions have been made in Art 324 of the Constitution to take care of surprise situations." 

The bench also said the EC, which has the power to issue notification for conducting polls, also has the power to recommend cancellation if it has arrived at the view that it is necessary to countermand it.

The EC, after going through various reports of the Income Tax Authorities, Special Observers for Expenditure had come to the conclusion that there was enough material to cancel the election, it said.

The commission informed the court that the cash was packed in covers with names and slips with details of whom it was to be paid to, the bench noted.

Senior counsel Satish Parasaran, appearing for Shanmugham, contended the cancellation of the election due to seizure of cash allegedly linked to the DMK candidate was illegal, arbitrary and disproportionate.

Referring to Section 8A of the Representation of the People Act, he argued appropriate remedy in cases of corrupt practices was disqualification of the concerned candidate and not countermanding the election as a whole in the constituency.

The legislature in its wisdom had envisaged countermanding or adjournment of elections only in such cases as law and order violations and natural disasters and not in cases of corrupt practices, he added.

The Union Law Ministry, which issued the order, and the President, who rescinded the notification, have no such powers after the announcement of the elections, Parasaran contended.


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