The action was taken based on a complaint by S Palani Nadar, a Congress candidate from the Tenkasi Assembly constituency. He claimed Sahara Arockia Anishtal, a graduate teacher from RC Middle School in Surandai, had cast her vote through a postal ballot, taken a picture of the ballot paper and shared it with her friends on WhatsApp and Facebook.
Following the complaint, the school administration was directed by the district election in-charge to suspend the teacher, and send a compliance report to the district education officer.
However, claiming innocence, Anishtal submitted a petition to the District Collector stating that she hadn’t voted through postal ballot, and someone else had misused her name and shared it on social media. The Tamil Nadu Primary School Teachers Federation had come out in support of her, and urged the school to drop charges against her.
The district police then registered a case under various sections of the Representation of the People Act and IT Act and initiated a probe.
The police found that one Senthil Kumar had posted the image of the ballot paper on Facebook. On further inquiry, it was revealed that due to an error in the ballot number, the teacher from Tenkasi had been wrongly charged, and the paper belonged to another teacher named Krishnaveni who had shared the image with her husband Ganesh Pandian, a functionary of a political party, who had then forwarded it to Kumar, his friend. The police arrested the three of them, who were later granted bail.
For the first time in Tamil Nadu, the Election Commission of India has allowed those above the age of 80, differently-abled, and patients suffering from Covid-19 to vote via postal ballots for the upcoming Assembly elections and the bypoll to the Kanyakumari Lok Sabha constituency. Those eligible were directed to fill a 12-D consent form when officials visit their residence.
Tamil Nadu votes in one phase on April 6. The results of the polls will be declared on May 2.