After a delay of two years, local bodies in Tamil Nadu are expected to be soon run by democratically elected members, as the State Election Commission (SEC) on Thursday informed the Madras high court that the schedule of the polls would be notified on or before May 31.
The counsel for the commission made a submission to this effect before a division bench of Justice M Sathyanarayanan and Justice M Sundar on a contempt plea moved by R S Bharathi, the organizing secretary of the DMK.
The counsel informed the court that since most of the pre-poll work including delimitation of wards based on the 2011 census was over, the SEC would notify the elections by May 31.
Recording the submission, the bench adjourned the hearing of the plea to June 6. On September 4, 2017, the first bench of the court headed by the Chief Justice Indira Banerjee (now elevated to the Supreme Court) had ordered that the SEC issue election notification by September 18, 2017, and complete the entire election process by November 17, 2017.
Originally, the civic polls were scheduled for October 2016 but were stalled by a single judge of the court, citing procedural irregularities in notifying elections.
SEC had failed to notify the election As the SEC failed to notify the election as directed, the DMK moved the present contempt plea, urging the court to punish the authorities of the SEC, state municipal administration and panchayat raj for wilful disobedience of its order in conducting civic polls and send the officials directly to jail.
Challenging the order, the SEC moved an appeal in which the court directed to complete the election by November 2017. During the hearing of the contempt plea, the first bench pulled up the SEC and state government for dragging the election.
When the issue was about to reach a logical conclusion, the then Chief Justice got elevated to the apex court. Subsequently, the issue was referred to as the present special bench.