The Madras High Court on Friday, January 21, refused to grant an interim stay to the conduct of Urban local body elections in the state. While hearing a Public Interest Litigation (PIL) filed by A Nakkeeran, retired Joint Director of Health Services, the court did not allow a stay to the conduct of elections. Senior counsel S. Prabhakaran representing Nakkeeran said that given the alarming situation of the COVID-19 pandemic, there was no urgency to conduct the Urban local body elections now. He said that nothing would happen if the elections were delayed as these civic bodies were not without any office-bearers for the past several years.
The senior counsel also said that the Tamil Nadu State Election Commission (TNSEC) has not taken stock of the ground situation of the pandemic before preparing for the elections. He also said that the TNSEC does not seem to be aware of the number of surging COVID-19 cases, deaths or even on the number of containment zones in the state.
S Prabhakaran said that the election should be postponed by two more months given the situation of the state and that threat to the lives of the people. Senior advocate SRL Sundaresan, representing another bunch of petitions, said that when the Supreme Court had set the deadline for holding the elections, the pandemic situation in the state was not this bad. The senior counsel wanted the elections to be postponed in the interest of public health.
Senior counsel Siva Shanmugam representing TNSEC informed the court that the poll notification has to be issued by January 27 as per the orders of the Supreme Court. The counsel of the Election Commission argued that a circular on COVID-19 protocol was issued by the commission and added that all standard operating procedures followed during the rural local body elections would be in place during the urban local body elections also. The court adjourned the case to January 24 after hearing the arguments and refused to grant any interim stay.