Amendment in Election Petitions Rules needed for quicker disposal of cases, says Madras HC

Chennai: The Madras High Court on Thursday observed there was a need to amend its rules relating to hearing of election petitions to ensure completion of the trial within six months as mandated in the Representation of the People Act (RPA).

Justice M Venugopal made the observation while upholding the election of DMK Working President MK Stalin from the Kolathur Assembly constituency in the May 2011 election and referring to the delay in concluding the trial.

In his 549-page judgement, the judge dismissed the petition filed by losing AIADMK candidate Saidai S Duraisamy challenging Stalin's election on grounds of alleged corrupt practices.

The election petition was not maintainable both in law and facts of the case, he held.

Madras High Court. IBNlive

Madras High Court. IBNlive

Reflecting on the delay in disposing of the petition, (the verdict coming one year after the subsequent polls which were held in 2016), the judge said he was of the opinion that the Madras High Court Election Petitions Rules, 1967 needed to be amended to speed up the trial in conformity with the RPA.

"An endeavour in right earnestness must be made to insert a necessary rule by bringing the amendment to the rules of Madras High Court Election Petitions, 1967 to keep in conformity with sections of the RPA," he said.

Also a rule similar to the ingredients of section 86(6) of the RPA may be inserted and brought in by the High Court with a view to achieving the desired aim and purpose of the RPA in regard to the complete and comprehensive adjudication of election dispute assigned to the designated judge concerned within the prescribed time, he said.

"Listing the election petition for conduct of trial once in a week is not a palatable one in the considered opinion of this court since the same will not achieve the desired objective of the ingredient of the Representation of People Act, 1951," Justice Venugopal said.

He said the existing rules of the high court on election petitions were silent as to the conclusion of the trial within six months from the date on which the petition was filed.

On the current petition, the judge said, "This court comes to an irresistible conclusion that there was no categorical averment that Stalin had given consent to his party functionaries to bribe the voters and self-help group members."

"Stalin cannot be held even vicariously liable for the alleged act of his party functionaries/workers in bribing the voters and self-help groups members," he said.

On the allegation that Stalin incurred expenses beyond the prescribed limit, the judge said the petitioner had indulged in vague allegations. Mere surmises or conjectures would not be sufficient to constitute corrupt practice.

Moreover, the allegation was made based on mere lurking assumption or presumption and simmering doubt and not rested on unambiguous, specific and convincing evidence. Suspicion cannot take the place of legal proof, he ruled dismissing the petition.

Updated Date: Jun 02, 2017 09:17 AM

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