Will the Tamil Nadu Bar Council elections be a democratic exercise? The elections are scheduled to take place on March 4, 2011 and candidates are actively campaigning to secure seats on the 25 member statutory body. The Madras High Court has appointed a former judge, Justice K.P. Sivasubramaniam to supervise the poll process and conduct the elections in a fair manner.
Will the Tamil Nadu Bar Council elections be a democratic exercise? The elections are scheduled to take place on March 4, 2011 and candidates are actively campaigning to secure seats on the 25 member statutory body. The Madras High Court has appointed a former judge, Justice K.P. Sivasubramaniam to supervise the poll process and conduct the elections in a fair manner. News reports suggest that advocates in Chennai standing for the Bar Council elections are promising canteens and air-conditioning facilities to [associations] for a fixed-seat. In an order last week, the High Court banned printing of posters, banners, festoons, etc., however, matters relating to auction and poll expenditure were not raised and thus were not covered in the order.
The process followed in the auction is well set, the candidates submit their respective quotations of what they propose to contribute to the associations. It’s open to prospective candidates to approach the office bearers and work out their quotations for a canteen or another want of the association. An Advocate stated that once the facility is provided, then all the votes in that association would be cast in the respective candidates favour, en-bloc. No one opposes this arrangement and the candidate volunteers to provide the association with the facility. The office bearers state that ultimately, it is the members of the association who benefit. As regards the coming elections, candidates have given quotations of upto Rs. 19 lakh ($40,000) A Senior Advocate told the Times of India that they conducted an auction and an advocate emerged victorious, having agreed to pay Rs. 19 lakh to the association's corpus and is now assured of all the votes in that association.
To ensure victory and hassle free promised votes, the office-bearers of an association concerned devise a transparent method based on casting all the votes en-bloc. Refusal is not entertained and force is often used to silence dissent.
Media reports states that, the Bar Council of Tamil Nadu and Puducherry (BCT), a statutory body has as on date about 50,000 advocates on its rolls eligible to vote in the Council polls.
A former member of the Council told the media, “A candidate is assured of clearing the first round if he/she polls between 800 and 1,000 votes. Hence there are attempts by candidates to buy-out associations in mofussil areas. Sometimes, amount is paid to associations on per-vote basis. And value of each vote ranges from Rs. 2,000 ($45) to Rs. 5,000 ($110) depending upon the desperation of the bidding candidates”.