Right to contest an election is a statutory right and not a fundamental or common law right

Rajasthan High Court: The petitioner was disallowed by the impugned order dated 2.8.2017 from contesting the election for the post of Research Scholar Representative under the Constitution of the Rajasthan University Students’ Union 2017 formulated by the University of Rajasthan.

Learned counsel appearing for the petitioner submitted that the election for the post of Research Scholar Representative was also held in the year 2016, wherein the petitioner along with three others, including one Ravindra Kumar, contested. Ravindra Kumar was declared elected although in an appeal his election was set aside. He further submitted that in the event of any major post of office bearer falling vacant within two months of elections, re-elections were to be conducted, failing which the Vice President was to be promoted to the post of President, and Joint Secretary to the post of Secretary.

It was submitted that following the setting aside of election of Ravindra Kumar, it was incumbent upon the University to hold the re-election for the post of Research Scholar Representative. Not so having done, the petitioner has been denied the opportunity of contesting a proper and valid election but only participated in one where an ineligible candidate has been allowed to contest. He submitted that the petitioner in all fairness and equity is entitled to contest the election on the post of Research Scholar Representative, 2017. He pleaded that the impugned order dated 2.8.2017 be set aside and the respondent University be directed to allow the petitioner to contest election for the post of Research Scholar Representative in the election of 2017.

Learned counsel appearing on behalf of the University, to the contrary submitted that the petition is completely misdirected. He drew attention of the Court to Rajasthan University Students’ Union Constitution (RUSU), particularly clause 15(f)(iv) which provides that no student shall be allowed to contest for more than once for the post of Research Scholar Representative in any case. Learned counsel also submitted that clause 15(f)(iv) of the RUSU Constitution is not under challenge and till it holds the field it would be determinative of the rights of the students of the University of Rajasthan, including Research Scholars to contest elections. He submitted that the University is not a place for political activity alone. The RUSU Constitution therefore balancing the rights of the students with the academic object of their being in the University in the first place has placed a reasonable restriction in public interest.

The Court held that admittedly the petitioner had contested the election to the post of Research Scholar Representative in the year 2016 and that election was not counter-mended though indeed the election of successful candidate Ravindra Kumar was subsequently set aside. The Court while dismissing the petition opined that the fact of the election setting aside is however of no consequence for reckoning of fact as to whether the petitioner earlier contested for the post of Research Scholar Representative. The Court held that right to contest an election is not a fundamental or common law right but is a statutory one and that in the instant case it was determined by the RUSU Constitution under clause 15(f)(iv) that the petitioner earlier having contested a duly held election on the Research Scholar Representative in 2016 cannot again contest election for the said post. [Mahendra Jat v. University of Rajasthan, 2017 SCC OnLine Raj 2315, decided on 21.8.2017]

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