HC rejects challenge to TN poll rule on drawing lots

HC rejects challenge to TN election rule on draw of lots to decide winner in case of tie

The Madras High Court on Friday dismissed a PIL challenging a Tamil Nadu Panchayats election rule which provided for draw of lots to decide the winner in case of a tie on vote count in polls, holding it cannot be considered anti-democratic or purely fortuitous or casual.

Noting that the voter's interest being equally divided also amounted to reposing equal confidence in both candidates, a bench of Chief Justice A P Sahi and Justice Subramonium Prasad said it therefore cannot be said that one was inferior or superior to the other.

"To us, it appears the legislature was conscious of such situations and, therefore, in order to provide a workable and operational system and to avoid further uncertainty by prolonging the process through fresh elections, thought it appropriate to provide an additional vote amongst those who had secured equal number of votes by the draw of a lot," it said.

The bench was passing a detailed order on a the public interest litigation petition filed by K Devadass of Adaiyur in Tiruvannamalai district whose rival M Kalaivani was declared winner in the village panchayat poll by draw of lots after both secured same number of votes.

The petitioner sought to declare Rule 67(1)(c) of the Tamil Nadu Panchayats (Elections) Rules, 1995, which provide for the tie-break, as invalid and utral vires.

The bench rejected arguments and suggestions of the petitioner's counsel that there can be a fresh election or the two may be allowed to work on a 50:50 tenure basis or provide a second opportunity to those who did not exercise their franchise on the polling day. "All this is in the realm of the wisdom of the legislature to formulate a method so as to make it workable... The very nature of a singular office, therefore, necessitates the existence of a method in order to terminate the proceedings and allow the system to function," it said.

The court said it found no merit in the contention that the rule was ultra vires either to the provisions of the act or to the democratic principles of the holding of an election by exercise of right of franchise or even violative of Article 14 of the Constitution. On the question of an alternative method, the bench said it was for the legislature to decide.

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