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TN: Two Years After Election, Dalit Woman President-Elect of Village Panchayat Prevented from Swearing In

DC Tirupattur has assured to hold the swearing-in before September 23, which is prevented by intermediate caste members who appealed against the reservation of the panchayat for SC Women.
caste discrimination

The atrocities against elected dalit and tribal panchayat presidents are very high in Tamil Nadu. Several atrocities and discriminations have come to light in recent years, from preventing them from sitting in the official chairs, hoisting the national flag, and heading the panchayat meetings. 

In another highly shocking incident, a dalit woman, elected as the president of the Nayakaneri panchayat in Tirupattur district in October 2021, is yet to be sworn in by the district administration even after almost two years after being awarded the certificate of election. In an act that undermined the electoral democracy, she was not permitted to take oath in the Vanniyar-dominated panchayat.

A former president of the panchayat, belonging to the Vanniyar caste, approached the Madras High Court, seeking to quash the Election Commission's decision to reserve the panchayat for Scheduled Caste (SC) Women. Though the case was dismissed, an appeal was filed based on which the elected representative was prevented from taking oath until now, despite the district administration being in the dark about the outcome of the appeal.

Despite the reservation of local bodies being made on a rotational basis, the dominant caste members decided to approach the court, citing the lower SC population in the panchayat.

After the talks, held at the initiative of the Communist Party of India (Marxist) [CPI(M)], Tamil Nadu Untouchability Eradication Front (TNUEF) and Viduthalai Chiruthaigal Katchi (VCK) on September 13 with the district collector, assurance has been made to complete the swearing-in before September 23.


The elections to the rural local bodies were held in 2019 after a three-year delay, while elections to nine reorganised districts, including Tirupattur district, were held in October 2021. As per the rotational policy adopted for the reservation of local bodies, the president post of the Nayakkaneri village panchayat in Ambur block in the district was reserved for SC(Women). 

Indumathi was elected unanimously as the only other contender's nomination was rejected. But, Siva Kumar, a former panchayat president belonging to the Most Backward Community (MBC), filed a case in the Madras High Court, seeking to prevent the elected president from taking the oath. 

A statement of the TNUEF alleged that the district administration and the district election officer refrained from swearing in the elected president based on the claims of the former president obtaining a stay from the high court. 

Speaking to NewsClick, K Samuel Raj, the general secretary of the TNUEF, said, “The advocates of the TNUEF and CPI(M), after verification, have found that there is no such stay in place. We do not understand why the elected president was not sworn in after two years of being elected.”

The family of Indumathi, her husband Pandian, belonging to the Vanniyar caste and two sons were ostracised from the village for contesting the election in 2021 itself. They shifted from the hamlet in the hilly area to another village and undertook menial jobs to meet their ends. 

AFTER GETTING INFORMATION ON THE ISSUE, the TNUEF leaders met Indumathi on September 3 with a team of advocates to explore legal remedies. 


On September 9, Indumathi was reportedly missing from her home, which caught the attention of the district administration and the media. Later, on September 11,  she appeared before the Ambur police. She reportedly left home after the social boycott and the subsequent problems faced by the family.

The TNUEF, CPI(M) and VCK took up the issue with the district administration about the inordinate delay in swearing her in, though the ambiguity continued about the stay obtained. 

The district collector of Tirupattur met the representatives of the organisations on September 14 evening.  The organisations questioned the delay from the district administration and district election officer in completing the democratic process. 

“After the talks, the district collector had assured to complete the swearing-in before September 23,” T Chellakannu, state president of TNUEF, told NewsClick.

The TNUEF has objected to the district administration seeking legal opinion, as the former president provided no proof of stay, nor was it available with the administration. 

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