EC Official Slammed By Madras HC For ‘Fraud’ Involving Jayalalithaa’s Thumb Impression Was on Panel Which Gave Clean Chit To Modi in Mission Shakti MCC Violation Case
In a case related to 2016 Tamil Nadu bypoll, the HC said that KF Wilfred had “played a fraud in connivance with the ruling party”.
The Madras High Court on March 22 set aside the election of deceased Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazagham (AIADMK) member AK Bose from Tamil Nadu’s Tirupparankundram Assembly constituency in a bypoll conducted in November 2016.
Per a report by Mohamed Imranullah S in The Hindu, the court said that Election Commission officials — Chief Electoral Officer (CEO) Rajesh Lakhoni as well as Principal Secretary to the EC KF Wilfred — had “played a fraud in connivance with the ruling party” by accepting the AIADMK chief Jayalalithaa’s thumb impression on the candidate’s nomination papers when she was in the hospital.
Notably, Wilfred was a part of the Sandeep Saxena-led panel which gave a clean chit to Prime Minister Narendra Modi for his speech on “Mission Shakti”, saying he had not violated the Model Code of Conduct (MCC).
A petition was reportedly filed by Madurai-based oncologist P Saravanan of the DMK on grounds that the “EC ought not to have accepted Jayalalithaa’s thumb impressions on Forms A (for getting party symbol) and B (declaration of official candidate of a party) submitted by Bose since the rules permit only signatures in ink”. Jayalalithaa was admitted in the hospital when Bose had submitted his nomination papers for the bypoll in 2016.
Justice P Velmurugan of the Madras HC slammed both the electoral officials, Lakhoni and Wilfred. He noted that the thumb impressions, certified by a government-nominated doctor, was accepted by the commission without the medical reports. The doctor had mentioned that Jayalalithaa’s right hand had got inflamed and hence her left thumb impressions were obtained on the forms. The commission relied solely on the letter submitted by AIADMK praesidium chairman E. Madhusudhanan and did not even bother to ask for the medical reports to verify the doctor’s claim, justice Velmurugan reportedly added.
Further, it was noted in the judgement that the process of attestation should also have been recorded as a video and produced before the Returning Officer and in the court.
Earlier this week, Deputy Election Commissioner in charge of the Model Code of Conduct (MCC) Division Sandeep Saxena reportedly headed a panel which included Sr. Principal Secretary (Law) Wilfred to examine the matter related to Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s address to the nation “in the light of the Model Code of Conduct” which is in force for Lok Sabha polls.