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National Bytes: SC stays HC verdict quashing Gujarat law minister’s election in assembly polls

SC stays HC verdict quashing Gujarat law minister’s election in assembly polls

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SC stays HC verdict quashing Gujarat law minister's election in assembly polls
SC stays HC verdict quashing Gujarat law minister’s election in assembly polls

In News:

  • Recently, the Gujarat High Court had cancelled the Gujarat education and law minister’s 2017 election victory on grounds of malpractice and vote manipulation.
  • On appeal, the Supreme Court has now stayed the order.

Background:

  • A BJP Leader was elected from Dholka constituency of Gujarat after defeating the Congress candidate by a margin of 327 votes in the 2017 Assembly polls.
  • An appeal was filed by an opposing Congress Candidate in the Gujarat High Court, alleging that the returning officer had illegally rejected 429 votes received via postal ballot.
  • It was argued that the exclusion of the 429 votes materially affected the election result as the rejected votes were more than the victory margin (327).
  • The candidate also alleged that the Election Commission’s instructions were not followed while counting the postal votes.
  • Gujarat High Court heard the matter and recently held the election of the MLA void because the court observed that the procedure adopted for counting of votes was against the orders of the Election Commission of India and the result of the election had been materially affected by the non-compliance of the provisions of Representation of People Act, 1951.
  • Thus, the verdict invoked the Representation of the People Act 1951, including Section 100 of Act, which allows an election to be declared void on the ground of “corrupt practice”.
  • Corrupt practices are defined in Section 123(7) of the Representation of the People Act 1951, and include procuring the assistance of government officers by a candidate to help in their election.

Constitutional Provision for declaring an election void:

  • The Constitution lays down that no election to the Parliament or the state legislature is to be questioned except by an election petition presented to such authority and in such manner as provided by the appropriate legislature.

About: Election Petition

  • An Election petition is a procedure for inquiring into the validity of the election results of Parliamentary, Assembly or local government elections. In other words, it is a means under law to challenge the election of a candidate in a Parliamentary, Assembly or local election.
  • Election petitions are filed in the High Court of the particular state in which the election was conducted. Therefore, only the High Courts have the original jurisdiction on deciding on election petitions.
  • An election petition can be filed by any candidate, or an elector relating to the election personally, to the authorized officer of the High Court.
  • Limitation Period for filing petition in High Court: An election petition calling in question an election shall be filed within the time period of 45 days from the date of declaration of results.
  • Appeal: An appeal shall lie to the Supreme Court on any question (whether of law and fact) from every order made by a High Court.
  • Limitation period for filing an appeal in the Supreme Court: Every appeal shall be preferred within a period of 30 days from the date of the order of the High Court.
  • However, the Supreme Court may entertain an appeal after the expiry of the said period of thirty days if it is satisfied that the appellant had sufficient cause for not preferring the appeal within such period.

Conditions for declaring the election of a particular candidate void:

  • The election of a particular candidate can be declared void by the concerned High Court under section 100 of the Representation of People Act, 1951, if the High Court is of the opinion that:
    1. On the date of his election a returned candidate was not qualified or was disqualified to be chosen to fill the seat.
    2. Any corrupt practice has been committed by a returned candidate or his election agent or by any other person with the consent of a returned candidate or his election agent.
    3. By improper acceptance of any nomination.
    4. By any improper reception, refusal or rejection of any vote or the reception of any vote which is void.
    5. By any non-compliance with the provisions of the Constitution or RPA or any rules or orders made under this act.

Also Read: Rebooting Economy: Govt’s wave of reforms to reboot economy

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