Chennai: In a first, the Election Commission on Saturday recommended cancelling polls to two Tamil Nadu Assembly seats - Aravakurichi and Thanjavur - following evidence of use of money to influence voters.
The Election Commission said the recommendation has been made to Governor K Rosaiah.
From these two constituencies, cash of over Rs 8 crore has been seized. Authorities also recovered over 2,500 litres of liquor, besides gifts like silver, dhotis and sarees meant during searches.
The EC said it was also constrained to state that Rosaiah should have avoided writing to it on May 26 recommending elections to the two constituencies be held before June 1.
The commission, in its order citing case laws, said the conduct of elections falls entirely under its domain.
In its order dated May 27, the commission recommended to Rosaiah to rescind that part of the notification calling elections to Aravakurichi and Thanjavur constituencies.
"Revised schedule for the said two Constituencies of 134-Aravakurichi and 174-Thanjavur will be recommended by the Election Commission in due course of time," it said.
Just before Tamil Nadu went to polls on May 16, the poll panel, owing to complaints of bribing of voters and seizures of unaccounted cash in these two constituencies, postponed the polls to May 23, and counting of votes to May 25.
However, Bharatiya Janata Party`s Thanjavur candidate MS Ramalingam and PMK`s Aravakurichi candidate M Baskaran and others had filed a petition in the high court praying for cancellation of the polls and ordering elections afresh.
When the petition was heard, the Election Commission decided to hold the polls for the two seats on June 13.
Rosaiah, however, wrote to the poll body after receiving representations from the AIADMK candidates - Senthil Balaji from Aravakurichi and Rengasamy from Thanjavur - to complete the elections early.
According to Election Commission, the governor in his letter has implied that the poll body should have consulted the state government before postponing the polls, but the EC order noted that it consults the state on law and order matters and not on the issue of fixing the election programme.
The poll body also cited an apex court decision holding that the ultimate decision as to whether it is possible and expedient to hold the elections at any given point of time must rest with the Election Commission.
"Moreover, the decision of the Election Commission to postpone the poll in the above mentioned two constituencies is not based on the assessment of any authority about the law and order situation in the two constituencies, but is based on the Commission`s assessment about the vitiated atmosphere in the constituencies created by the illegal use of money power to allure the electorate by unethical and unlawful means resorted to by the candidates and the parties," the order states.
It said that neither the Representation of the People Act, 1951 nor any other law requires that the Election Commission should consult the governor before making any changes in the election calendar set by it under section 30.
The Election Commission also said the governor`s observation that the postponement of elections in these two constituencies will deprive the members to be elected from these constituencies to vote in the coming election to the Rajya Sabha is an extraneous consideration inasmuch as the members elected on the basis of an election which is not free and fair would not be true representatives of the electors of these constituencies.
"Further, there is no requirement under the law that for conducting the elections to the Rajya Sabha, all the seats in the legislative assembly should be filled," the order said.
PMK founder S Ramadoss on Friday had demanded the ouster of Rosaiah for acting in support of the ruling AIADMK. He also demanded the ouster of state chief electoral officer Rajesk Lakhoni for meeting Rosaiah and submitting a report before the completion of the electoral process in the state.
(With Agency inputs)