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PC poll plea thrown out
Chidambaram

Chennai, Aug 4: Madras High Court today rejected P. Chidambaram’s plea to dismiss a petition filed by his defeated AIADMK rival who had challenged the Union minister’s election from Sivaganga in the 2009 Lok Sabha polls.

The court said hearings in the case could commence in three weeks.

In his application, Chidambaram had said there were defects in the petition filed by R.S. Raja Kannappan, who lost by a wafer-thin margin and alleged “manipulation” of votes.

The defects had also been noted by the high court registry, but Kannappan’s lawyer had corrected them, after which the petition was numbered.

High court officials said if a petition was grossly defective, it wouldn’t even be numbered, a point Kannappan’s counsel made while opposing Chidambaram’s plea.

Justice K. Venkatraman dwelt on the same point while dismissing Chidambaram’s application. “There cannot be any doubt that an election petition filed with defects which cannot be curable cannot be considered as an election petition at the end,” the judge said.

“However, in the case on hand, the defects pointed out by the officer concerned are not defects which are not curable warranting dismissal of the election petition.”

The judge said the application preferred by Chidambaram “is liable to be rejected and accordingly rejected”.

In his June 2009 petition, Kannappan alleged that Chidambaram’s election “deserved” to be declared void because of “manipulation” of votes and “corrupt practices” by him, his election agents and others with his consent. He sought a recount of votes polled in the entire constituency.

Kannappan had lost the election by 3,354 votes after a close fight during which the leads kept changing. The narrow victory was announced by the returning officer after Chidambaram had left the counting venue after Kannappan had re-established a slender lead.

On her trip to Delhi this June, Tamil Nadu chief minister Jayalalithaa, too, had sought Chidambaram’s resignation, saying the Union minister won by “fraudulent” means. The AIADMK leader said Chidambaram was announced the victor because of a fraud committed by a data entry operator.

The home minister had shot back, saying her statement was a “gross contempt of court” as the petition was still pending.

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