A petition has been filed in the Madras High Court against AIADMK Deputy General Secretary TTV Dhinakaran to bar him from contesting the RK Nagar by-elections.
The petitioner argued that Dhinakaran should be barred on the grounds that he had been convicted in the Foreign Exchange Regulation Act (FERA) case and had been fined Rs 25 crore.
The petition was filed by an AIADMK cadre named Joseph from Arumbakkam in Chennai. In his petition, Joseph points out that under the Representation of Peoples' Act (RPA), a person convicted of an offence should not be allowed to contest the elections.
Under section 8 of the RPA, a conviction for offences under FERA qualifies for a disqualification of a candidate. A person convicted will not be allowed to contest an election for six years under the RPA.
On January 6, 2017, the Madras High Court confirmed the penalty of Rs 25 crore imposed on Dhinakaran by the Directorate of Enforcement in the 1996 FERA case. Dhinakaran, who is AIADMK General Secretary VK Sasikala’s nephew, was accused of money laundering and benami transactions.
However, whether the Madras High Court’s confirmation of the penalty can be interpreted as a conviction is open to debate. Speaking to The News Minute, former Chief Election Commissioner TS Krishnamurthy says, “If it is not a formal conviction, then he cannot be disqualified. Moreover, if an election has been announced, then the court cannot interfere with the poll process until results are declared. If the court does entertain the petition, the Election Commission can object.”
He, however, added that the Returning Officer has certain guidelines and protocols to follow while accepting a candidate’s nomination papers.
By-polls to RK Nagar Assembly Constituency were necessitated following the demise of former Chief Minister Jayalalithaa. Scheduled for April 12, the North Chennai constituency will see a multi-cornered contest with TTV Dhinakaran, E Madhusudhanan of O Panneerselvam’s faction, Marudhu Gaanesh of DMK, Deepa Jayakumar and BJP’s Gangai Amaran in the fray.