A bench comprising of Justices Hemant Gupta and Aniruddha Bose, taking into consideration the order passed by the top court on December 11, 2019, said instead of four months, which were given to hold the elections, the poll panel has taken 18 months. The bench observed that in 2018-19, the tenure of the local bodies had expired and since then there are no new elected representatives. The bench warned that if court order is not complied, then poll body can face contempt action.
The top court said the notification for the election to the local bodies would have to be issued by the state poll panel and by September 15, the results would have to be declared.
Senior advocate P.S. Narasimha, representing the Election Commission of India (ECI), submitted before the bench that the order passed in 2019, could not be implemented as assembly election was given priority and later there was West Bengal assembly election.
Narasimha added that Covid cases are high in number in the state and urged the court to give some more time to hold the elections in these nine districts. The bench said, these days Covid is usually cited as an excuse in every other matter and elections can be held when political parties want it.
The bench noted that ECI does not conduct local body polls, instead it is the state election commission which does that. “It will be better if you hold the elections by September 15 or we will initiate contempt action for non-compliance,” said the bench.
Narasimha said that they do not have any intention of non-compliance of order. He added that delimitation will be done in nine districts and post this exercise, the notification will be issued for elections. For this purpose, Narasimha, sought more time. However, the bench did not budge and sought compliance of its order.
The top court on December 11, 2019, had directed the Tamil Nadu government and the state poll panel to conduct upcoming local bodies election by relying on 2011 census instead of the 1991 census as alleged by the opposition DMK.
The Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK) had moved the top court seeking quashing of the notification, issued by the state poll panel on December 7, 2019. The DMK had alleged that for local body election, the state poll panel did not provide quota for women and SC and ST candidates as per the 2011 census, rather it was using 1991 census for this purpose.