Friday, June 8, 2012

Mad HC: Chidambaram to face trial on poll petition



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Chidambaram to face trial on poll petition, says court

MOHAMED IMRANULLAH S.

MADURAI, June 8, 2012

Union Minister P. Chidambaram leaves South Block after a Cabinet meeting on Thursday.

Union Minister P. Chidambaram leaves South Block after a Cabinet meeting on Thursday

Judge strikes off only two charges of his exercising undue influence and misusing official machinery

The Madras High Court on Thursday declined to remove all allegations listed in a petition challenging the election of Union Home Minister P. Chidambaram from Sivaganga in the 2009 Lok Sabha polls, but ordered the deletion of two paragraphs that contained charges of his using the services of officials, including bank officers, to ensure his victory.

Rejecting Mr. Chidambaram's contention that the election petition, filed by R.S. Raja Kannappan (AIADMK), did not disclose any material fact, Justice K. Venkataraman said the allegations of corrupt practices and distribution of money to voters could not be nullified at this stage but had to be examined in a detailed trial.

The matter was heard in the principal seat of the High Court in Chennai, but the order was delivered in the Madurai Bench.

Disposing of Mr. Chidambaram's application filed last year in response to the main election petition of June 2009, Justice Venkataraman struck off only two of the 25 paragraphs sought to be nullified in Mr. Raja Kannappan's 28-paragraph affidavit.

In those two paragraphs, he accused Mr. Chidambaram of bringing undue influence in his capacity as Union Minister and making the entire official machinery in the constituency work overtime for his victory. The AIADMK candidate also alleged that certain bank officers owing allegiance to the Minister were deployed for election duty despite protests.

The court, however, said these allegations were without substance and material facts. "The name of the bank, the name of the officials, the place where they had been enlisted for election duty, the date and time are not set out in the election petition," the judge said.

On Mr. Chidambaram's plea to strike off the other 23 paragraphs also, the judge said: "The contention of the applicant that the election petition does not disclose material facts or material particulars as far as the corrupt practice and distribution of cash [are concerned] cannot be accepted at this stage. It requires a detailed trial.

"A perusal of the various averments made in the election petition shows that sufficient material facts were made and it discloses cause of action for trial of the election petition. It also contains adequate statement of material facts on which the allegations of irregularities or illegalities in counting were founded … The contention that the election petition does not disclose any cause of action cannot be accepted."

The paragraphs the judge refused to strike off contained allegations that thousands of women belonging to self-help groups in the constituency were paid Rs. 500 each by the Minister's son, Karti Chidambaram, and his election agents, and that the Minister, in connivance with the Returning Officer, manipulated the number of votes in his favour on the day of counting, May 16, 2009.

According to Mr. Raja Kannappan, he secured 3,34,348 votes as against 3,30,994 votes polled by Mr. Chidambaram. However, when it became clear later in the day that the Congress-led alliance was about to form the next government at the Centre, the results were manipulated in favour of Mr. Chidambaram, who was declared elected by a margin of 3,354 votes, the AIADMK candidate alleged.

Denying the allegations, the Minister wanted the court to dismiss the election petition and strike off the 25 paragraphs in particular.

This was the second time he filed an application.

A similar application filed in 2009 on grounds of defects in the petition was dismissed on August 4 last by Justice Venkataraman, who said they were curable.

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His continuance in Cabinet a blot on democracy: Jayalalithaa

SPECIAL CORRESPONDENT

CHENNAI, June 7, 2012

A file photo of Tamil Nadu Chief Minister Jayalalithaa with Union Home Minister P. Chidambaram.

A file photo of Tamil Nadu Chief Minister Jayalalithaa with Union Home Minister P. Chidambaram

Describing the continuance of Home Minister P. Chidambaram in the Union Cabinet as a "blot on Indian democracy" in the light of the Madras High Court rejecting his plea over an election petition, All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam general secretary Jayalalithaa on Thursday demanded that he resign or, if he refused to quit, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh sack him.

In a statement here, the Tamil Nadu Chief Minister said it was her party's position that Mr. Chidambaram won the 2009 Lok Sabha election from Sivaganga "in a fraudulent manner." She recalled that she had been reiterating the position ever since Mr. Chidambaram was declared winner three years ago. Last year too, she made this point.

She claimed that Mr. Chidambaram had filed the petition in the High Court "out of fear" to face the case and to "delay the judicial process."

Counsel's response

Meanwhile, T. Sathyamurthy, counsel for Mr. Chidambaram, claimed that the High Court had partially accepted the petition [of Mr. Chidambaram seeking deletion of certain pleadings made in an election petition filed by AIADMK candidate R.S. Raja Kannappan]. It had removed two crucial paragraphs — paragraphs 4 and 5 — of the election petition. The paragraphs contained allegations against the Returning Officer, other government servants and bank officials, and alleged 'corrupt practices.' "These pleadings [mentioned in the poll petition] have now been struck out."

Mr. Sathyamurthy said the correct position was that the court had not expressed any view on the merits of the allegations and had only struck out two crucial paragraphs on the ground that they did not comply with the strict law of pleadings. "As regards the other pleadings, issues will be framed and the trial of the election petition will begin. It is pertinent to point out that the trial of the election petition has not yet started and the case is at a preliminary stage," counsel said.

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Drop Chidambaram from Cabinet: BJP

SPECIAL CORRESPONDENT

NEW DELHI, June 7, 2012

Within hours of the Madras High Court rejecting Home Minister P. Chidambaram's plea for dismissal of a petition questioning his election to the Lok Sabha in the 2009 polls, the BJP asked Prime Minister Manmohan Singh to drop him from the Cabinet as he had lost the 'moral authority' to continue as Minister. However, the Congress firmly stood by Mr. Chidambaram. The Home Minister rejected the demand, saying that he was 'astonished at the monumental ignorance' of the Opposition.

Addressing a press conference here on Thursday, BJP president Nitin Gadkari said Mr. Chidambaram, who had been embroiled in so many controversies, could not continue as Minister.

Recalling that his party had also made allegations against Mr. Chidambaram in the 2G scam and the Aircel-Maxis deal (which were denied by the Home Minister), Mr. Gadkari said: "What more evidence does the Prime Minister need? Is this not enough evidence? On moral grounds, Mr. Chidambaram has no right to continue in office. He should have resigned earlier. We had boycotted him in Parliament yet the Prime Minister did not take it seriously."

The BJP chief enumerated all the charges levelled against the Home Minister in recent months, and said: "In spite of all this, why are the Congress, the UPA, the Prime Minister and Sonia Gandhi giving him shelter? Ms. Sonia Gandhi had said that she will not bear with corruption and will take action. Then why are the Prime Minister and Ms. Gandhi bearing with Mr. Chidambaram's corruption? Why has no strong action been taken despite the High Court verdict?"

Backing his Cabinet colleague, Law Minister Salman Khurshid said: "The BJP wakes up in the morning and says the Home Minister should resign. God knows how many times the Home Minister would have resigned had he accepted whatever the BJP said."

Mr. Khurshid said elections could be challenged only through an election petition. Media reports were creating the impression that this was a criminal trial, which was not the case.Congress general secretary Digvijay Singh said: "What case has he [Mr. Chidambaram] lost? It's an election petition. He has not lost a case, which has anything to do with his working as the Home Minister."

Mr. Singh dismissed AIADMK chief Jayalalithaa's remark that Mr. Chidambaram's continuance in the government would be a "blot on democracy," saying, "As far as Ms. Jayalalithaa is concerned, it is a political issue. The Election Commission has declared Mr. Chidambaram elected and that is it."

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Settle election disputes quickly

June 8, 2012

Union Home Minister P. Chidambaram may have failed in his bid to avert a trial in a case challenging the validity of his election in 2009 from the Sivaganga parliamentary constituency. But does the Madras High Court's decision dismissing his plea to strike off the election petition filed by his opponent, the AIADMK's Raja Kannappan, signify anything more than a small embarrassment? 

While the allegations made by Mr. Kannappan are of a serious nature, the germane issue is whether this case against Mr. Chidambaram will be decided before he completes his five-year term as a Lok Sabha MP. 

The answer: probably not. The delay in disposing of election petitions, which are rarely settled before the term of the elected candidate runs out, is a major flaw of our electoral system. This is not the way things were supposed to be. 

Section 86 (6) of the Representation of the People Act, 1951 enjoins High Courts to hold trials "from day to day" until their conclusion. And subsection 86 (7) declares that "every election petition shall be tried as expeditiously as possible and endeavour shall be made to conclude the trial within six months from the date on which the election petition is presented to the High Court on trial." Unfortunately, the speed of the judicial system has failed to keep up with the demands of the law.

Faced with the phenomenon of election petitions becoming infructuous, as they remained pending after the term of the House expired, the 2nd Administrative Reforms Commission recommended the setting up of special tribunals to expedite their disposal. The enormous irony of delay was brought home in the case of Congress MLA P. Veldurai, whose election to Cheranmahadevi in 2006 was set aside by the Supreme Court at a time when he was busy campaigning to be elected to another Tamil Nadu constituency in 2011! 

That the court ordered to him to repay the salary he earned as a legislator was hardly recompense to his opponent, who was unjustly denied Assembly membership. The High Court's decision allowing the trial against Mr. Chidambaram to take place should not be interpreted — as some of his political opponents have chosen to — as evidence of his guilt. No conclusion should be drawn about the merits of the petition and the calls for his resignation over this are unreasonable. 

The Court's decision only means that the charges, with the exception of two that have been struck off, will now be examined in detail during the trial. However, in the interest of justice and in recognition of the centrality of elections to our constitutional framework, this should take place as expeditiously as possible.

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அடுத்த சிக்கல்: மத்திய உள்துறை அமைச்சர் ப.சிதம்பரத்திற்கு - தேர்தல் வழக்கில் விசாரணையை சந்திக்க உத்தரவு

பதிவு செய்த நாள்: ஜூன் 07,2012,23:44 IST

- நமது சிறப்பு நிருபர் -

மத்திய உள்துறை அமைச்சர் சிதம்பரத்தின் தேர்தல் வெற்றியை எதிர்த்து, ராஜகண்ணப்பன் வழக்கு தாக்கல் செய்திருந்தார். இதை எதிர்த்து சிதம்பரம் தாக்கல் செய்த பதில் மனுவில், இரு குற்றச்சாட்டுகளை மட்டும் நீக்கம் செய்தும், மற்ற புகார்களை நீக்க வேண்டிய அவசியமில்லை எனவும் மதுரை ஐகோர்ட் கிளை உத்தரவிட்டது. மற்ற குற்றச்சாட்டுகள் நீக்கப்படாததால், தேர்தல் வழக்கு விசாரணையை சிதம்பரம் சந்திக்க வேண்டிய நிலை ஏற்பட்டுள்ளது. கடந்த 2009 லோக்சபா தேர்தலில், சிவகங்கை தொகுதியில் தி.மு.க., கூட்டணியில் காங்., சார்பில் தற்போதைய உள்துறை அமைச்சர் சிதம்பரம், அ.தி.மு.க., சார்பில் முன்னாள் அமைச்சர் ராஜகண்ணப்பன் போட்டியிட்டனர். சிதம்பரம் வெற்றி பெற்றதாக அறிவிக்கப்பட்டது.

துஷ்பிரயோகம்

இதை எதிர்த்து ராஜகண்ணப்பன், சென்னை ஐகோர்ட்டில் தாக்கல் செய்தார். அந்த மனுவில் கூறியிருந்ததாவது: தேர்தல் மற்றும் ஓட்டு எண்ணிக்கையின் போது சிதம்பரம் மகன் கார்த்தி, பல முறைகேடுகளில் ஈடுபட்டார். வேட்பு மனு தாக்கல் பரிசீலனையின் போது, அதிகார துஷ்பிரயோகம் நடந்தது. அன்னை கஸ்தூரிபாய் தொண்டு நிறுவனத்தைச் சேர்ந்தவர்களுக்கு தலா 500 ரூபாய் வழங்கப்பட்டது. ஒரு இடத்தில், பணப் பட்டுவாடாவின் போது கையும் களவுமாக பிடிபட்டனர். இது குறித்து புகார் செய்தும், போலீசார் வழக்கு பதிவு செய்யவில்லை. ஊழல், முறைகேடுகள் மூலம் வெற்றி பெற, உள்துறை அமைச்சர் சிதம்பரம் அரசியல் செல்வாக்கை பயன்படுத்தியதால், நியாயமாக தேர்தல் நடக்கவில்லை. அரசு அதிகாரிகள் அதிக நேரம் பணிபுரிந்தனர். வாக்காளர்களுக்கு பணப் பட்டுவாடா செய்யப்பட்டது. அவர்கள் அச்சுறுத்தலுக்கு ஆளாகினர். கார்த்தி சிதம்பரம் தீவிரமாக ஏஜன்ட் போல் செயல்பட்டார். சிதம்பரத்தின் வெற்றியை உறுதி செய்யும் நோக்கில், அவருக்கு விசுவாசமானவர் தேர்தல் நடத்தும் அதிகாரியாக நியமிக்கப்பட்டார் (மனுவில் பத்தி 4). தேசியமயமாக்கப்பட்ட வங்கிகளில் பணிபுரியும் அதிகாரிகள், தேர்தல் அதிகாரிகளாக நியமிக்கப்பட்டனர். ஏற்கனவே, 2008ல் சிதம்பரம் உள்துறை அமைச்சராவதற்கு முன், மத்திய நிதி அமைச்சராக இருந்தவர். வங்கி ஊழியர்கள், சிதம்பரத்திற்கு ஆதரவாக இருப்பர் என நான் ஆட்சேபித்தேன். இதை தேர்தல் கமிஷன் கண்டுகொள்ளவில்லை (மனுவில் பத்தி 5). சிதம்பரம் வெற்றி பெற்றது செல்லாது என அறிவிக்க உத்தரவிட வேண்டும். இவ்வாறு ராஜகண்ணப்பன் தன் மனுவில் குறிப்பிட்டுள்ளார்.

செல்வாக்கிற்கு பாதிப்பு

சிதம்பரம் தாக்கல் செய்த மனுவில் கூறியுள்ளதாவது: அரசியல் செல்வாக்கிற்கு பாதிப்பு ஏற்படுத்தும் வகையில் பொதுவான குற்றச்சாட்டுகளை, மனுதாரர் தெரிவித்துள்ளார். கார்த்தி சிதம்பரம் ஏஜன்ட் போல் செயல்பட்டதாகக் கூறுவது தவறு. ஊழல் புரிந்ததற்கான ஆவணங்கள், சான்றுகள் எதுவும் இல்லை. என் மீது ராஜகண்ணப்பன் தாக்கல் செய்துள்ள பத்தி 4 முதல் 28 வரையான குற்றச்சாட்டுகளை நீக்கம் செய்ய உத்தரவிட வேண்டும். இவ்வாறு குறிப்பிட்டிருந்தார். இம்மனு நேற்று மதுரை ஐகோர்ட் கிளையில் நீதிபதி கே.வெங்கட்ராமன் முன்னிலையில் விசாரணைக்கு வந்தது.

நீதிபதி

ராஜகண்ணப்பன் மனுவில் பத்தி 4 மற்றும் 5ல் குறிப்பிட்டுள்ள குற்றச்சாட்டுகள் மட்டும் நீக்கம் செய்யப்படுகிறது. ஓட்டு எண்ணிக்கையில் முறைகேடு தொடர்பான குற்றச்சாட்டு உட்பட மற்ற புகார்களை, தற்போதுள்ள சூழ்நிலையில் நீக்க வேண்டிய அவசியமில்லை. அது தொடர்பான கோரிக்கை நிராகரிக்கப்படுகிறது. சிதம்பரம் மனு பைசல் செய்யப்படுகிறது . பத்தி 4 முதல் 28 வரையான குற்றச்சாட்டுகளை நீக்கம் செய்ய கேட்ட சிதம்பரம் தரப்பின் மனுவில், இரண்டு புகார்கள் மட்டும் நீக்கப்பட்டுள்ளன. மற்ற குற்றச்சாட்டுகளை நீக்க வேண்டிய அவசியம் இல்லை என, ஐகோர்ட் உத்தரவிட்டுள்ளது. இதன் மூலம் மற்ற குற்றச்சாட்டுகள் நீக்கப்படாததால், வழக்கு விசாரணையை சிதம்பரம் சந்திக்க வேண்டிய நிலை ஏற்பட்டுள்ளது. கண்ணப்பனின் வழக்கு தொடர்ந்து இனி நடக்கும். இதனால், ஏற்கனவே பல்வேறு கட்சிகளின் அதிருப்தியை சந்திக்கும் சிதம்பரத்திற்கு, அடுத்த சிக்கல் உருவாகிஉள்ளது.

இது தேர்தல் வழக்கு; கிரிமினல் வழக்கு அல்ல

மத்திய உள்துறை அமைச்சர் சிதம்பரத்தின் தேர்தல் வெற்றியை எதிர்த்து, ராஜ கண்ணப்பன் வழக்கு தாக்கல் செய்திருந்தார். இதற்கு நீதிபதி வழங்கிய உத்தரவு குறித்து சிதம்பரம் கருத்து தெரிவித்துள்ளார். 

சிதம்பரம் கருத்து

கோர்ட் தீர்ப்பு குறித்து மத்திய உள்துறை அமைச்சர் சிதம்பரம் கூறுகையில், "தேர்தல் வழக்கில் கோர்ட் அளித்துள்ள தீர்ப்பு, எனக்கு எவ்விதத்திலும் பின்னடைவை ஏற்படுத்தவில்லை. எனக்கு எதிராக வழக்கு போட்டவருக்கு தான் பின்னடைவை ஏற்படுத்தியுள்ளது. இது ஒரு தேர்தல் வழக்கு; கிரிமினல் வழக்கு அல்ல. வழக்கு இன்னமும் விசாரணைக்கு வரவில்லை. வெறும் குற்றச்சாட்டுகள் அடங்கிய மனு தான். 15வது லோக்சபாவில், உறுப்பினர்கள் மீது இது போன்று 111 தேர்தல் வழக்குகள் உள்ளன. இந்நிலையில், நான் பதவி விலக வேண்டும் என தமிழக முதல்வர் ஜெயலலிதா, பா.ஜ., தலைவர் கட்காரி போன்ற தலைவர்கள் கூறுவது, அவர்களின் அறியாமையைக் காட்டுகிறது' என்றார்.

Courtesy_

Also read the related stories


"Verdict a setback only to my rival"


SPECIAL CORRESPONDENT

NEW DELHI, June 7, 2012

A case is pending in the Madras High Court seeking the cancellation of Home Minister P. Chidambaram's win in 2009 Lok Sabha elections.

PTI A case is pending in the Madras High Court seeking the cancellation of Home Minister P. Chidambaram's win in 2009 Lok Sabha elections.

Reacting to the Opposition demand for his resignation in the wake of the Madras High Court rejecting his plea for dismissal of an election petition against him, an assertive Home Minister P. Chidambaram told journalists here on Thursday: "Issues have not yet been framed, trial has not yet started and not one witness has been examined. I am astonished by the monumental ignorance displayed by certain political leaders. This is an election petition. There are 111 election petitions filed against members of 15th Lok Sabha," he told journalists here.

He went a step further and argued that "the [High Court] verdict was not a setback to him but for his rival [AIADMK candidate Raja Kannappan of the AIADMK in the 2009 Lok Sabha elections from Sivaganga]."

PTI reports

Mr. Chidambaram said that in the election petition there were only allegations.

The Minister said he hoped that political leaders would read Order 6, Rule 16 of the Civil Procedure Code and understand what was the meaning of 'strike out the pleadings'.

"If pleadings are struck out, it is a setback to the election petitioner and not to me."

Asked about the claim of Mr. Raja Kannappan's lawyer that except paras 4 and 5, all charges in the petition had been accepted by the court, Mr. Chidambaram said "pleadings have not been accepted. Now the trial is to start."

Replying to AIADMK chief Jayalalithaa's charge that he had moved the court out of fear of facing the case and only to delay the process, the Minister said sarcastically: "They [rivals] have not sought adjournments to the trial dozens of times. They have not approached the High Court or the Supreme Court dozens of times. Therefore, they are entitled to make these demands."

Courtesy_

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