Top court allows aggrieved individuals to file election petitions before appropriate court.
New Delhi: In a huge relief and victory for Mamata Banerjee government in West Bengal, the Supreme Court on Friday refused to direct re-poll of 20,159 seats won unopposed by TMC candidates in the recent panchayat polls, paving the way for notifying the winners.
Rejecting the petitions filed by BJP, CPI(M) and others seeking re-poll, a Bench of Chief Justice Dipak Misra and Justices A.M. Kanwilkar and D.Y. Chandrachud, however, allowed aggrieved individuals to file election petitions before the appropriate civil/district court if the election process had been vitiated by intimidation as alleged by opposition Congress, BJP, CPM and others.
Writing the judgment Justice Chandrachud said, “The electoral process is afforded sanctity in a democracy. That is the reason why in a consistent line of precedent, this Court has insisted upon the discipline of the law being followed so that any challenge to the validity of an election has to be addressed by adopting the remedy of an election petition provided under the governing statute.
Rejecting the demand for re-polls, the Bench said for this Court to set aside elections to over 20,000 seats would be to prejudge the basic issue as to whether in each of those constituencies, the election stood vitiated by obstruction having been caused to candidates from filing their nominations.
A general assumption of this nature cannot be made. Ultimately whether this is correct or not would depend upon the evidence adduced in the facts of individual cases where such a grievance has been made in an election petition, the bench added.
Agreeing with the State’s submission, the Bench said that any dispute in regard to the validity of the election has to be espoused by adopting a remedy which is known to law namely through an election petition. It is at the trial of an election petition that factual disputes can be resolved on the basis of evidence. The apex court however, took a serious view of the complaints of irregularities and said it was extending the date for filing of election petition by 30 days due to the pendency of the proceedings in the top court. Declaration of results in the official gazette.
The Bench said any person aggrieved could raise a dispute in the form of an election petition in accordance with the provisions contained in the Panchayat Elections Act within 30 days from the declaration of results.
The bench set aside the Calcutta high court order directing the Election Commission to accept nominations through WhatsApp and emails.