Supreme Court: In the controversy relating to the Arunachal Pradesh elections where the illegal withdrawal of the nomination of Atum Welly resulted into unopposed election of Kameng Dolo, the Court upheld the decision of the Gauhati High Court wherein the said election was held to be void under Section 100(1)(d)(iv) of the Representation of the People Act, 1951.
Noticing that there were only two candidates in the fray, one from the Indian National Congress and the other from the Bhartiya Janata Party and that the election petitioner while campaigning came to know that his nomination papers were withdrawn that were alleged to be withdrawn by Sanjeev Tana who was neither the candidate himself nor the proposer nor the election agent of the candidate and, therefore, the High Court held that he was not authorized to seek withdrawal of the candidature. It was noticed that though it is a settled law that election of a candidate who has won at an election should not be lightly interfered with but it has also to be borne in mind that one of the essentials of election law is to safeguard the purity of the election process and to see that people do not get elected by flagrant breaches of that law or by corrupt practices.
Refusing to interfere with the decision of the High Court, the bench of Dipak Misra and A.M. Khanwilkar, JJ said that Section 37 of the Act reflects that the legislature has provided number of safeguards before exercising the authority for acceptance of withdrawal of a candidate. The intention of the Parliament is that due care and caution has to be taken in letter and spirit so that no confusion is created. The issue of alert and careful exercise gains more significance when there are two candidates because if one’s withdrawal is allowed in complete violation of the statutory provision, the other candidate gets automatically declared elected, for there is no election, no contest. When in transgression of the statutory provision, a candidate’s candidature is allowed to be withdrawn, it will tantamount to sacrilege of democracy.
The Court noticed that, in the instant case, there was no contest at all and there can be no manner of doubt that there was flagrant breach of Section 37 of the Act leading to unopposed election of the appellant. Hence, the election had been materially affected and accordingly the election result dated 15.03.2014 is void under Section 100(1)(d)(iv) of the Act. [Kameng Dolo v. Atum Welly, 2017 SCC OnLine SC 556, decided on 09.05.2017]