Elections to urban local bodies across Tamil Nadu will be held on February 19, announced State Election Commissioner V Palanikumar on Tuesday, January 25. The counting of votes will be done on February 22. The announcement came after the Madras High Court, on Tuesday morning, permitted the urban local body polls in the state to be held as per schedule. The court said that it would monitor the conduct of elections in the state.
A PIL (Public Interest Litigation) filed in the court had asked for the polls to be deferred until after March, when the COVID-19 situation might ease or improve. However, the bench comprising Acting Chief Justice MN Bhandari and Justice PD Audikesavalu rejected the PIL, stating that the Tamil Nadu State Election Commission (TNSEC) can go ahead with the local body polls after observing all the COVID-19 protocols and guidelines issued by the Union government.
The court also said that the state government had the liberty to move the Supreme Court with a plea to grant more time to hold elections if it desired. The court said that it was the Supreme Court that had stipulated that the TN government should announce the election schedule for the urban local bodies within four months.
The PILs in the court were filed by Dr M Nakkeeran, former Joint Director of the Health Department, and one more person. They sought the court to postpone the polls in view of the rising COVID-19 infections in the state. The petitioners had contended that the TNSEC was not taking stock of the ground reality regarding the surging cases. It had not even reviewed the number of containment zones in the places where the polls were proposed to be held, the PIL said.