Officer admits to rigging results in local body poll

Chennai : An official has told the Madras High Court that though an independent candidate had won the local body poll, he declared the DMK candidate as a winner because of ‘immense pressure’ exerted on him.

The Returning Officer of T Kallupattti Town Panchayat in Madurai district made this submission over the election held for Ward 10.

While the first bench of Chief Justice Munishwar Nath Bhandari and Justice D Bharatha Chakravarthy recorded the officer’s submission and directed him to file an affidavit listing out the names of the people who ‘pressured’ him, the SEC tried to control the damage by telling the court that the officer has now been suspended and the wronged candidate was declared the winner.

According to the petitioner Palaniselvi, she and her opponent R Subbulakshmi of the DMK had secured an equal number of votes in the elections held during the election held on 19 February. Hence, a lot was conducted to decide the issue, which was videographed.

Though the lot went in her favour, the election officer declared Subbulakshmi as elected. Hence, the present petition to quash the declaration made by the election officer on 22 February as illegal and consequently to declare her as the successful candidate.

As per rules, the elector had to be chosen through draw of lots in case of a tie between two candidates.

After perusing the videos, the court held that it is very clear that the officer has altered the result and warned the Commission of serious consequences if appropriate action is not taken against the officer. The Returning Officer, who appeared in person in court, said he had rigged the election results due to ‘tremendous pressure’.