The Madras High Court on Tuesday permitted Puthiya Tamilagam party president K. Krishnasamy to withdraw an election petition filed by him 2016 challenging the election of R. Sundarraj from Ottapidaram Assembly constituency on a ticket offered by All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (AIADMK).
Justice K. Ravichandrabaabu granted the permission since the petitioner had filed an application for withdrawal in February itself and a gazette notification was also issued expressing his willingness to withdraw the case. Nevertheless, no other eligible person had come forward to substitute himself in place of the election petitioner.
Mr. Krishnasamy had chosen to withdraw the case since Mr. Sundarraj got disqualified from holding the post of MLA along with 17 others in 2017 for having supported T.T.V. Dhinakaran of Amma Makkal Munnetra Kazhagam. The disqualification was upheld by the High Court last year and the verdict was not taken on appeal to the Supreme Court.
Therefore, pursuing the present election petition pending since 2016 would become a mere academic exercise, the petitioner said, and urged the court to grant permission for withdrawing the case. The petition had been filed on several grounds, including distribution of cash to the voters by the AIADMK cadre during the poll campaign.
It was also contended that more than 1,750 postal votes were missing and not taken for counting and thus, the same had materially altered the result of the election. The petition had also accused the returned candidate of having misused government machinery and accused the District Election Officer of having acted in favour of him.
Though Mr. Sundarraj had filed an application in 2016 itself to strike down all the grounds raised by the election petitioner and to reject the case in toto, Justice Ravichandrabaabu had refused to do so without conducting a full fledged trial. Thereafter, the judge commenced the trial proceedings and had to abandon it abruptly now due to the withdrawal plea.
In the meantime, Justice P. Velmurugan of the High Court informed senior counsel P. Wilson that he would be delivering his verdict by Friday on an election petition related to Tirupparankundram Assembly constituency.
Madurai-based oncologist P. Saravanan of Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam had filed this election petition in 2017 challenging the victory of A.K. Bose (since dead) of AIADMK from Tirupparankundram Assembly constituency during the bypoll conducted during Jayalalithaa’s hospitalisation in November 2016.
Though as many as 21 Assembly constituencies in the State were vacant as of now, the Election Commission of India had decided to conduct byelections for only 18 of them citing the election petitions pending in the High Court in connection with Ottapidaram, Tirupparankundram and Aravakurichi constituencies.
The election petition related to Aravakurichi constituency was also pending before Justice Velmurugan. This case had been filed by a candidate of Desiya Makkal Sakthi Katchi challenging the victory of V. Senthil Balaji who had approached the Supreme Court and obtained a stay for the hearing on the election petition.
Subsequently, Mr. Balaji too got disqualified along with 17 others when he supported Mr. Dhinakaran in 2017. However, in December last, he switched over to the Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam and was now interested in conducting byelections in his constituency.