|Justice Misra passes strictures against State Election Commissioner|
Justice P.K. Misra
CHENNAI : Justice Prafulla Kumar Misra, the third judge hearing cases relating to the Chennai Corporation polls, has said he was in agreement with the findings of Justice F.M. Ibrahim Kalifulla that fresh polls should be held to a majority of the wards.
Passing severe strictures against the State Election Commissioner (SEC), the Judge said: "I cannot but agree with the observation that the Election Commissioner had not lived up to the role expected of him being a constitutional functionary."
Referring to newspaper reports with pictorial proof, supported by corroborative materials such as complaints, first information reports, ballot papers and affidavits, Mr. Justice Misra said: "One does not have to descend from heaven to conclude that all was not well during the poll, and what was unleashed on the fateful 13th day of October was indeed hell on earth so to say.
As a constitutional functionary, it was obviously the duty of the State Election Commissioner to ensure a free and fair election on the said date.
"When numerous complaints had been made through telephone calls, through applications before the police, only an ostrich with its head deeply buried in the sand can pretend as if nothing had happened, particularly when there was enough opportunity even after the date of polling and before the date ultimately fixed for counting, to make sincere efforts to assess the magnitude of the alleged poll violence."
Making it clear that he would not go beyond the findings of Mr. Justice Kalifulla and that there was no scope to order fresh polls beyond the number specified by the Judge, Mr. Justice Misra, however, said there was not enough material to order recall of the election certificate from the successful candidate of ward number 53.
He held that the decisions of the State Election Commission were subject to judicial review by the High Court. "However, the court is required to be very circumspect in such matters and interfere only in the rarest of rare cases."
As for media reports, the Judge said the court, as also the State Election Commission, could place reliance upon the newspaper reports in conjunction with other material.
As a result of the third judge's order, election of councillors from 98 wards in Chennai Corporation has been held null and void. The candidate elected from Ward Number 53, however, shall continue in office.
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