HC upholds TN order canceling coop polls

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Chennai, Jun 5: Madras High Court has upheld the Tamil Nadu Government's Order cancelling June 2007 elections to cooperative societies due to large-scale violence and irregularities.

Dismissing petitions filed by some elected members of a cooperative society, Justice N Paul Vasanthakumar said, ''It will be a deterrent to the unscrupulous candidates and biased election officials who indulge in such malpractices affecting the purity of the election process.'' Many cooperative societies completed the election process after the notification in April 2007. Soon, media and political parties began highlighting widespread malpractices during the polls.

Even during the elections, a large number of telegrams and complaints were sent to the Registrar of Cooperative Societies and the government alleging that electoral rolls had not been properly prepared and nomination papers were not available among others.

More than 78 per cent of the candidates were elected unopposed.

First, the government asked the Registrar to probe the issue and after receving his recommendations, it cancelled the elections by a order issued on July 11 ,2007.

Some of the writ petitioners said they had already been elected and should be allowed to assume charge while others said no malpractices took place. Justice Vasanthakumar said Sec 182 of the Cooperative Societies Act empowered the state government to cancel elections and the order could not be declared unauthorised.

''The government had the plenary power to direct the Registrar of Cooperative Societies to hold an inquiry and take an appropriate decision.

''By taking such a decision, the government has also put on notice that it has got power to cancel elections to maintain the purity of the election process and can administratively interfere for upholding the conduct of free and fair elections,'' the judge said.

He further noted that as the government had taken a conscious decision to cancel the elections, the court had no jurisdiction to go into the wisdom of the government in arriving at such a conclusion, particularly when the government had invoked its executive power enumerated in Article 162 of the Constitution.

Holding the government's decision to scrap the election process as legal and valid, the Judge said the government should take steps to notify dates for fresh elections.

UNI

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