Monday, Oct 21, 2002
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By A. Subramani
According to the petitioner, K. Sakkarapani, the president-elect, M. Sivaprakasam, would automatically incur disqualification for not taking oath even several months after the election was held on October 18, 2001. (Section 40 of the Tamil Nadu Panchayats Act stipulates that if a person elected member or president of a panchayat fails to take oath or affirmation within 90 days from the date of declaration of results, will cease to hold office and his seat shall be deemed to have become vacant).
Mr. Sakkarapani contended that his rival, Mr. Sivaprakasam had ``so far not taken oath though the results were declared on October 22, 2001, and therefore had lost his presidentship''.
However, in his counter-affidavit, the Returning Officer submitted that as Mr. Sakkarapani and Mr. Sivaprakasam had secured equal number of votes (397), the latter was declared election after lots were drawn. He also added, ``Mr. Sivaprakasam actually took oath of office before him (election officer) at the Mayilam panchayat union building''.
The president-elect could not take oath at the civic body's meeting in view of the ``serious law and order problem'' relating to the election.
Rejecting the procedure, Justice E. Padmanabhan said, ``when the statutory provision requires the oath or affirmation to be taken in a panchayat meeting, it means that taking oath at any other place will not save him from the disqualification attached in terms of Section 40 read with Section 43(6) of the Act.
When a statutory provision requires a particular thing to be done in a particular manner, it shall be done only in that manner and no other manner is permissible.''
The judge pointed out that four of the six elected ward members had also not taken oath even beyond 90 days, and said they would also attract disqualification.
Pronouncing that the office of the Valiyanur panchayat president had fallen vacant, the judge directed the Government to hold election to the president post and four ward member vacancies within six months.
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