|Official made no attempt to decide whether poll was fair: judge|
CHENNAI: Despite being confronted with newspaper reports and photographs highlighting the poll violence on October 13, 2006, the State Election Commission (SEC) followed a policy of "read no evil, see no evil, hear no evil and speak no evil," the Madras High Court has lamented.
Justice Prafulla Kumar Misra, in his 82-page order concurring with the findings of Justice F.M. Ibrahim Kalifulla, expressed deep concern at the attitude of the SEC, and said: "It is very difficult to either understand or appreciate such sphinx-like silence or an ostrich-in-the-sand attitude. I have no hesitation in coming to the conclusion that the SEC had failed to discharge its constitutional obligations inasmuch as it never made any worthwhile attempt to find out whether the `election held on that day was indeed a free and fair election or a mere charade.'"
The question looming large is whether the SEC made a serious attempt to apply his mind to allegations made either before him or before the police, and the reports uniformly appearing in newspapers, the judge said.
The SEC was not expected to seek evidence beyond all reasonable doubt, he said, adding that a preponderance of probability or even reasonable suspicion regarding the fairness of the poll could have justified repolling. "It was the duty of the SEC to show to the rest of the country that the value and principle of free and fair poll was above everything else. If the `minions' of the election mechanism remain quiet, the `super authority', namely the SEC, should have risen to the occasion. Instead of adopting an attitude of obduracy, it would have been better to act in order to avoid the possibility of the criticism that when Rome was burning Nero was fiddling," he said.
On the affidavit filed by the Police Commissioner, he said it gave an impression the officer had nothing to do with alleged incidents inside the election booths, unless the election officer concerned lodged a complaint with police. "However, it can be clarified that there was hardly any allegation against the Director-General of Police in any of the writ petitions, nor he had any direct role in maintaining law and order, except as supervisory authority," he said.
© Copyright 2000 - 2006 The Hindu