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HC upholds ECI's decision to cancel Vellore poll

CHENNAI: Upholding the decision of the Election Commission of India (ECI) to rescind election to Vellore Lok Sabha constituency in view of the seizure of unaccounted money, the Madras high court on Wednesday brushed aside the pleas moved via AIADMK candidate A C Shanmugam and impartial candidate Ok Sugumar challenging it.
A distinct department bench of Justice S Manikumar and Justice Subramonium Prasad mentioned that courts can't intervene in the decisions of the ECI.

President Ram Nath Kovind on Tuesday gave his nod to the Election Commission's recommendation to rescind the election in the Vellore Lok Sabha constituency in the wake of seizure of unaccounted money from DMK candidate Kathir Anand. The cancellation got here days after Rs 11.48 crore used to be seized via the source of revenue tax department from the constituency.

The primary rivalry of the petitioners used to be that Section 8A of the Representation of People Act envisages handiest the disqualification of a candidate for the fee of such corrupt practices and as such, the correct remedial measure in the provide case, assuming that the ECI's findings are accurate, would be the disqualification of the candidate concerned.

Pointing out that the cancellation notification used to be issued via the President, senior counsel Satish Parasaran mentioned, "The President has no such power after elections are notified by the ECI. The powers of the President under the law work themselves out once a notification is issued under Section 14 of the RP Act."

It is handiest the ECI that may then supervise or regulate an election which can be achieved handiest as in keeping with RP Act. The cancellation notification issued under Section 14 of the RP Act learn with Section 21 of the General Clauses Act lies in contravention of constitutional mandate conferred on the ECI, Parasaran added.

"There are 22 candidates contesting from the constituency but there is no single allegation in the notification that goes beyond one particular candidate. Therefore, the commission cannot be justified in cancelling the election," he contended.

This aside, the senior counsel argued that to cancel an election there will have to be an unforeseen circumstance like booth capturing and rioting. But no such instances had been prevailing in the constituency, he mentioned.

Arguing for the impartial candidate, senior counsel ARL Sundaresan mentioned, "The notification itself says that by seizing the unaccounted money, the ECI has averted distribution of money to voters. That is, they have averted distribution of money at the preparation stage itself."

"If seizure of money is the only ground for cancelling election, then so far over thousands of crores of rupees were seized across the country. Therefore, election cannot be conducted in all the constituencies where monies were seized," Sundaresan mentioned.

Opposing the pleas, ECI counsel Niranjan Rajagopal submitted that the fee has fabrics to confirm that the environment in the constituency is vitiated and loose election cannot be performed.

There could no longer be a judicial overview to go into whether there used to be a vitiated atmosphere for the fee to cancel the election for the reason that ECI used to be the expert body to decide, he added.

As to the submissions that corruption allegations are made handiest against a unmarried candidate and no longer others, the ECI mentioned, "Whether the environment for conducting free election is spoiled by one candidate or more does not matter," he mentioned.

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