The Supreme Court on Monday agreed to hear on Thursday a fresh plea of the Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam seeking a direction to the Election Commission to complete formalities such as delimitation of constituencies and reservation aspects before going ahead with the panchayat and local body election in Tamil Nadu.
A bench headed by Chief Justice S A Bobde took note of the submissions of senior advocate A M Singhvi, appearing for the DMK, that the plea needed to be heard urgently as the poll panel announced on Monday morning that elections to rural local bodies in Tamil Nadu will be held in two phases, on December 27 and 30.
Filing of nominations for the elections would commence on December 6, the senior lawyer said, adding that the poll process has been set in motion "without concluding the legal formalities" with regard to delimitation exercise and reservation aspects in the upcoming elections.
"List it for hearing on Thursday," said the bench, which also comprised Justice B R Gavai and Justice Surya Kant.
There are three processes -- delimitation of each ward of all the local bodies, reservation of office of chairman or mayor in a town panchayat, municipality or corporation, and rotation policy -- which are to be carried out by the state government and the Tamil Nadu Delimitation Commission which is then to be implemented by the Tamil Nadu State Election Commission.
The plea, filed through Amit Anand Tiwari, said the state Election Commission has not followed legal requirements, though it informed the apex court about issuing a notification for the elections.
"These mandatory legal processes are required to be carried out before issuance of any election notification, since the same will not only be ensuring compliance of legal mandate making the election free and fair but also benefit the voters, enable the development of amenities, facilities and status of wards/ divisions/ municipalities/ district panchayats/ panchayat union councils and village panchayats," the plea said.
The DMK alleged that the present Tamil Nadu government was dragging its feet on conducting polls and had not carried out the delimitation activity for the newly made nine districts and claimed that in many districts even the preliminary exercise of delimitation has not been carried out.
"The basic legal requirement of publishing the draft delimitation proposal/order has not been carried out and in the absence of such publication, neither any objections have been invited or have been received, nor any hearing has been conducted.
"The delimitation authority has also not carried out rotation and reservation of seats, exercise subsequent to publication of draft delimitation order. Hence, the state election commission has so far not carried out and completed basic legal formalities therefore, cannot be permitted to hold local bodies polls in a manner which would not be fair and free and would also be contrary to the mandatory legal requirements," the plea said.
Earlier in the day, the Tamil Nadu State Election Commission announced that the long-awaited elections to rural local bodies in Tamil Nadu will be held in two phases on December 27 and 30.
The model code of conduct comes into force immediately in local bodies that go to elections and the poll notification will be issued on December 6, it said.
Nominations can be filed from December 6 to December 13 and the scrutiny will be taken up on December 16. The last date for withdrawal of nominations is December 18. The counting of votes will be taken up on January 2, it announced.