Chief Justice upset at govt. statements in SC
‘Failure on polls has led to constitutional breakdown’
The Chief Justice of Madras High Court, Indira Banerjee, on Tuesday expressed displeasure over the State government having attributed “wrong and irresponsible” statements to a Bench led by her while arguing a case in the Supreme Court on the opening of liquor shops along the highways.
The Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK) on Tuesday went hammer and tongs at the Tamil Nadu State Election Commission as well as the State Government for avoiding the conduct of local body polls on one pretext or another and contended that there was a “constitutional breakdown” in the State due to its failure to ensure timely elections.
Senior Counsel P. Wilson, representing the DMK, made the submission before the first Division Bench of Chief Justice Indira Banerjee and Justice M. Sundar while arguing a contempt of court application filed by the party against Chief Secretary Girija Vaidyanathan and State Election Commissioner M. Malik Feroze Khan, among others. The contempt application had been filed for allegedly disobeying an order passed by the court on a batch of writ appeals, including one filed by the DMK, on September 4 directing the Commission to issue a notification for the local body polls by September 18 and complete the entire process by November 17.
Mr. Khan contended that the elections could not be conducted due to an ordinance promulgated by the government on September 3 repealing certain legal provisions related to territorial division of civic bodies into wards and thereby creating a peculiar situation where “there exists no wards” as on date.
However, terming it to be “a larger game played by the government in connivance with the State Election Commission,” Mr. Wilson said that propriety would require the government to have sought the leave of the court before promulgating the Ordinance since the Bench had already heard the writ appeals at length and reserved its verdict during that time.
“In fact, your lordships had listed the matter on September 1 (Friday) for pronouncing orders. On that day, there was no sitting and so it was posted on September 4. On Sunday (September 3), they bring in an Ordinance and repeal certain provisions without realising that even after the repeal, substantive provisions of the law related to local bodies remain unaffected,” he said.
“By repealing these provisions and removing them from the statute books, it does not mean the Commission is helpless. What is required is a simple notification. It is the constitutional obligation of the election commissioner to conduct the elections,” he argued.
The Bench adjourned further hearing to Thursday.