It's not appropriate to take a recourse to writ jurisdiction when alternate remedies are available in the cases of election dispute - SC

What does the order read?

  • High Court not to interfere in the election matters, especially after declaration of the results of the elections but relegate the parties to the remedy contemplated by the statute.
  • It is further submitted that the order passed by the Returning Officer confers a cause to an aggrieved person to file an election petition under Section 15 of the 1959 Act. Such order of acceptance of nomination papers could not be challenged in a writ petition in view of Article 243-O of the Constitution of India and in view of alternate efficacious remedy provided under the 1959 Act.
  • The matter is remitted to the Collector totake into consideration the nature of default, the purport for which the election expenses are sought to be furnished.
  • The order of disqualification operates from the date of the order including delay in passing the order of disqualification.
  • The Collector shall pass the order afresh in respect of period of disqualification in accordance with law preferably within a period of one month from the date of receipt of copy of this judgment.

Facts of the Case

The order of the Returning Officer who had accepted the nomination of a candidate for the elections of Gram Panchayat was challenged before the High Court which was partly allowed.

In appeal before the Apex Court, objections were raised that the order of acceptance of nomination papers could not be challenged in a writ petition according to the provisions of Article 243 O of the Constitution of India and in view of alternative remedy provided under the Maharashtra Village Panchayats Act.

All about Article 243 O

The 73rd Constitutional Amendment inserted Part IX in the Constitution of India. Article 243-O of the Constitution of India stating:

Notwithstanding anything in this Constitution:

  • the validity of any law relating to the delimitation of constituencies or the allotment of seats to such constituencies made or purporting to be made under article 243-K, shall not be called in question in any court;
  • “no election to any Panchayats shall be called in question except by an election petition presented to such authorityand in such manner as is provided for by or under any Law made by the Legislature of a State.”

Alternative mechanism in Section 15of Maharashtra Village Panchayat Act.

Section 15 of Maharashtra Village Panchayat Act states a detailed procedure of determination of validity of elections through an enquiry by judges.

Section 15A states that:

No election to any Panchayat shall be called in question except in accordance with the provisions of Section 15; and no court other than the Judge referred to in that Section shall entertain any dispute in respect of such election.”

Section 15 B states that:

(1) If the State Election Commission is satisfied that a person,-

(a) has failed to lodge an account of election expenses within the time and in the manner required by the State Election Commission, and

(b) has no good reason or justification for such failure, the State Election Commission may, by an order published in the Official Gazette, declare him to be disqualified and such person shall be disqualified for being a Councillor or for contesting an election for being a Councillor for a period of five years from the date of this order.

(2) The State Election Commission may, for reasons to be recorded, remove any disqualification under subsection (1) or reduce the period of any such disqualification.”

Important judgments in the cases of election dispute:

  • In TarlochanDev Sharma v. State of Punjab &Ors., this Court has held that holding and enjoying an office, discharging related duties is a valuable statutory right of not only the returned candidate but also his constituency or electoral college. Therefore, the procedure prescribed must be strictly adhered to and unless a clear case is made out, there cannot be any justification for his removal.
  • In Ravi YashwantBhoir v. District Collector, Raigad&Ors., this Court held that an elected official cannot be permitted to be removed unceremoniously without following the procedure prescribed by law. Where the statutory provision has very serious repercussions, it implicitly makes it imperative and obligatory on the part of the authority to have strict adherence to the statutory provisions.
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