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Covid becoming excuse for all matters: Supreme Court directs Tamil Nadu State Election Commission to conclude polls by Sep 15

A Bench of Justice Hemant Gupta and Justice Aniruddha Bose heard the plea filed by S. Shankar, seeking an extension of time to conduct elections of Local Bodies in Tamil Nadu by way of a miscellaneous application in a writ petition.

The Supreme Court on Tuesday directed the Tamil Nadu State Election Commission to conduct and declare the results of Local Bodies (ward and office) elections in nine districts by September 15.

A Bench of Justice Hemant Gupta and Justice Aniruddha Bose heard the plea filed by S. Shankar, seeking an extension of time to conduct elections of Local Bodies in Tamil Nadu by way of a miscellaneous application in a writ petition.

In the Writ Petition, the earlier three Judge-Bench of then Chief Justice SA Bobde, Justice S Abdul Nazeer and Justice Sanjiv Khanna issued directions to the Election Commission of India to conduct elections by implying the 2011 census, irrespective of the number of seats determined by the delimitation Commission after the delimitation exercise and further issued time for carrying delimitation exercise as provided in the judgement of this Court, dated December 6, 2019, hereby fixed at three months.

The Bench observed that the tenure of local body got expired in 2019 and thus, granted time till September 15, 2021 to go ahead in conducting the elections and declaring the result, failing which the Election Commission shall face with the contempt proceedings.

Senior Advocate PS Narasimha, appearing for the State Election Commission, argued before the Bench that the election process could not be commenced due to surge in COVID-19 cases, which further raised concern about health of public of Tamil Nadu, if election happens in the prevailing pandemic situation.

However, the Bench noted that COVID-19 is coming as an excuse for all matters. “For two years, you did not complete with the election process,” the Bench added.

The Election Commission said, “It is not a matter of administration, it is a matter of health of Public.”

The Bench observed, “Conduct election before third wave arises.”

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To which, Mr Narasimha contended, “Tamil Nadu is the highest in the country in rising of COVID cases. Responsibility is of ours to conduct election. Process of bringing back EVMs and other machineries will take time. Nine districts were carved out, so far as delimitation is concerned. Give us till September.”

The Bench, while directing the State Election Commission to conduct the elections before September 15, noted, “We will issue contempt against you then, September 15 will be sufficient time to conduct elections.”

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