Uncertainty continues over winner of Radhapuram Assembly seat in Tamil Nadu

Published : Oct 04, 2019 16:49 IST

M. Appavu of the DMK protesting at the counting centre in Tirunelveli on May 19, 2016.

M. Appavu of the DMK protesting at the counting centre in Tirunelveli on May 19, 2016.

The suspense over who was elected to the Radhapuram Assembly constituency in the 2016 election in Tamil Nadu continues with the Supreme Court stepping in yet again and granting a stay on October 4 in an election petition relating to a 2016 case over the non-counting of postal votes. The term of the current Assembly ends in May 2021.

I.S. Inbadurai of the AIADMK was declared the winner by 49 votes against M. Appavu of the DMK in the Radhapuram seat. The announcement happened even as Appavu was protesting against the refusal of the Returning Officer (R.O.) to count 203 postal votes, which, in the view of the R.O., did not have the signature of a gazetted officer. Appavu escalated the complaint to the District Election Officer (who is the District Collector) and later to the Chief Election Officer. All the higher officials concurred with the R.O.

Appavu also contested the results of the last three rounds of counting. He later filed an election petition in the Madras High Court within three months of the announcement of the result. Inbadurai wanted the petition dismissed, but the judge found merit in the case and dismissed his plea. Inbadurai approached the Supreme Court, where the case was heard over a period of time. Early this week, the Supreme Court vacated the stay on the election petition. Soon after, the Madras High Court ordered a recount of the last three rounds of counting (19, 20 and21) and of the postal votes.

The High Court judge ruled that the classification of gazetted officers and non-gazetted officers had been abolished in the State. Despite this, the election rules continued to use the term. As of now, Tamil Nadu officers were classified as group A, B, C and D. Also, group A and B officers can attest certificates and other documents. The additional clause was that those receiving a grade pay of ₹4,500 as part of their remuneration would be eligible to attest. Since middle school headmasters were being given a grade pay of ₹4,500 since 2011, they were fully eligible to attest postal votes, he concluded and ordered a recount of the postal ballots and the three final rounds.

Just as the re counting was in progress on October 4—and initial reports from the counting centre showed Appavu firmly in the lead—it was Inbadurai’s turn to seek a stay on the publication of the result. He had approached the Supreme Court for the purpose and even as the recount was under way he was granted the relief by the Supreme Court. The stay is in operation until October 23.

An alteration in this result does not affect the stability of the AIADMK government in Tamil Nadu. But the heat generated by this recount will give an edge to the DMK-Congress combine fighting two byelections in the State. One of the two constituencies, Nanguneri, is next to Radhapuram.


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