HC upholds cancellation of LS poll in Vellore seat

HC upholds cancellation of LS poll in Vellore seat

Madras High Court on Wednesday refused to interfere in the Election Commission (EC) of India’s decision to rescind Lok Sabha polls in Vellore constituency due to allegations of rampant use of money power.

Hearing a plea filed by AIADMK candidate from Vellore, A C Shanmugham, against cancellation of the polls, a bench of justices S Manikumar and Subramonium Prasad said that it can’t interfere with the decision.

The ECI had on Tuesday night rescinded polls to Vellore seat after concluding that “unlawful activities” including inducement of voters through cash by DMK candidate Kadhir Anand has made “free and fair elections” impossible there.

This is the first time that elections in a Lok Sabha seat is rescinded following rampant use of money power— in 2016, the EC cancelled polls to Aravakurichi and Thanjavur Assembly constituencies in Tamil Nadu over similar allegations.

Vellore is a high-profile seat where Anand was locked in an intense battle with New Justice Party’s A C Shanmugam, an AIADMK veteran who had shrugged shoulders with the late M G Ramachandran, and K Pandurangan of the AMMK.

The bench said that the EC, which has the power to issue notification for conducting elections, also has the power to recommend for cancellation if it has arrived at the view that it is necessary to halt the election, the bench said.

In a detailed statement, the ECI had said it detected a “systematic design” to influence voters in the constituency during the election process and accused Kadhir Anand and his father and DMK Treasurer Durai Murugan of shifting a large amount of cash and other incriminating material out of their college premises while the I-T teams were denied entry on March 30.

It had said that during the raids at the residence of one Damodaran, brother-in-law of a DMK functionary, Srinivasan, a total of Rs.11.48 crores, most of which was packed in plastic packets with ward wise details, was seized.