Thursday, August 4, 2011

Court rejects PC’s plea in election case

Chennai: The Madras high court on Thursday rejected a petition filed by Union home minister P Chidambaram, seeking dismissal of a plea challenging his election from Sivaganga in the 2009 parliamentary elections.
Chidambaram’s application raised objections to the election petition filed by his main opponent R S Raja Kannappan of the AIADMK and sought its dismissal on the ground that it had several defects. Kannappan had lost the election by only 3,354 votes.
Chidambaram said his counsel had inspected the petition on November 13 and December 2 in 2009 and found that the court officer who scrutinized the petition had returned it to Kannappan on September 18 earlier that year as it was found to be defective. While filing a fresh affidavit, Kannappan changed the date to June 24, he claimed. Filing an affidavit at a later date, especially after the expiry of period for filing election petition, makes it a petition of no consequence, the application said.
It also cited the rules framed by the court, which stated that the court officer, after examining an election petition, should place it along with his report, if any, before the judge. Instead, the officer returned it to the petitioner, it said. Arguing that Kannappan had committed a gross fraud on the court by tampering with the records, Chidambaram’s counsel urged the court to dismiss the petition.
However, the section officer who scrutinized Kannappan’s petition submitted a report, saying he had noted certain defects in the petition, but they were simple in nature. Passing orders, Justice K Venkataraman said, “The election petition could not be thrown out in the light of the fact that the defects noted by the officer did not warrant the dismissal of the petition itself.”
Kannappan, in his petition, had submitted that Chidambaram’s election “deserved to be declared void” due to “manipulation of votes and corrupt practices” by him, his election agents and others. He had sought recount of the votes polled in the constituency.
Chief minister Jayalalithaa during her visit to Delhi in June had sought the resignation of Chidambaram, alleging he got himself elected by “fraudulent” means. She alleged that Chidambaram was announced the successful candidate because of a fraud committed by a data entry operator, but the Union minister hit back saying her remarks were “gross contempt of court.”

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