Madras HC Orders Recounting of Votes During 2016 Assembly Elections in Radhapuram
File photo of the Madras High Court.
Chennai: The Madras High Court on Tuesday ordered recounting of postal ballots and votes polled in EVMs in three particular rounds in Radhapuram constituency in the 2016 assembly elections in Tamil Nadu.
Justice G Jayachandran passed the interim order on a petition by M Appavu of the DMK challenging the election of his nearest AIADMK candidate IS Inbadurai from the constituency in Tirunelveli district and fixed October 4 date for the recounting.
After the judge passed the order, senior counsel for Inbadurai moved a petition seeking a stay on it. Counsel for the Election Commission Nirajan Rajagopalan made a mention before the judge that the poll body would need some time for making the arrangements for recounting.
Justice Jayachandran said he will hear on Thursday the stay petition and the EC's plea for time. In the election, Inbadurai had polled 69,590 votes, while Appavu secured 69,541 votes.
According to the petitioner, who sought to declare the election of Inbadurai as void, a total of 203 postal ballots were declared invalid for being attested by the headmaster of a middle school.
He sought recounting of all postal ballots after reverification and recounting of the regular votes recorded in the electronic voting machines (EVMs) covered under 19,20, and 21 rounds of counting.
The judge in his interim order held as "improper" the rejection of the 203 postal ballots, saying no law prohibited en masse attestation if it is otherwise valid.
"The declaration of returning candidate has been materially affected due to refusal/rejection of 203 postal ballots and by non-compliance with provisions of the Representation of Peoples Act and Rules and order made there under," he said.
"The petitioner was entitled to the relief of re-verification of all the postal ballots in view of the Clause 15.15.1 under chapter XV of the Hand book of Returning officers issued by the Election Commission in 2014," Justice Jayachandran said.
"Besides, the counting of votes recorded in the EVMs taken up during 19,20 and 21 rounds was in contravention of Rules 56(C) 2 of the Conduct of Election Rules and hence has to be recounted," he said.
He directed the EC to produce the control units of EVMs pertaining to the rounds of 19,20 and 21 of the constituency, and produce all the postal ballots before the registrar general of the high court at 11.30 am on Friday.
The judge then directed the registrar general to depute any of his registrars to supervise the recounting and submit a report to the court immediately on completion.
The EC shall depute four people having expertise in the election process to assist in the recounting and the candidates or their representatives shall be permitted for the exercise, he added.
Besides, a counsel on behalf of the petitioner and on behalf of the returning candidate and the EC would also be permitted.