Utt HC | Art. 226 not ordinarily extends to issuing a mandamus to legislature to make a law; Writ dismissed as Election Commission has plenary power to adjudicate

Uttaranchal High Court: A writ petition was contemplated by Ramesh Ranganathan, CJ and Alok Kumar Verma, J. where the petitioner sought a writ of mandamus to command the respondents to consider the petitioner’s grievances and to consider linking the Voter ID Card of every valid adult voter with his Aadhaar Card, further it was sought that Voter ID card to be treated as valid document for casting vote in every election and to have a common list for every election either for Parliament, Assembly or for Local Bodies and Panchayats.

It was addressed in the Court that Article 243C in Part IX of the Constitution of India, related to the composition of Panchayats and under Clause (1), and the State Legislature makes provision for the composition of Panchayats. Article 243 C(2) stipulated that all seats in Panchayat shall be filled by persons chosen by direct election from territorial constituencies in the Panchayat area and, for this purpose, each Panchayat area shall be divided into territorial constituencies in such manner that the ratio between the population of each constituency and the number of seats allotted to it shall, so far as practicable, be the same throughout the Panchayat area.

Shobhit Saharia, learned counsel for the Election Commission of India, contended that no relief was sought against the Election Commission of India, the petitioner had, in effect, sought the electoral roll, prepared by the Election Commission of India under the Representation of the People Act, 1951, to form the basis for preparation of the electoral rolls for Panchayati Raj Institutions and Urban Local Bodies in the State of Uttarakhand. It was unnecessary to dwell on this aspect any further since the preparation of an electoral roll was prescribed in the State of Uttarakhand by law made by the State Legislature called the “Uttarakhand Panchayati Raj Act, 2016

It was further highlighted that provisions, similar to Article 243K in Part IX of the Constitution of India, were also prescribed for Urban Local Bodies under Article 243 ZA in Part IXA of the Constitution of India. In terms of the provisions of the Panchayati Raj Act, 2016, a separate electoral roll was required to be prepared for Panchayats in the State. The mode and manner in which these electoral rolls were to be prepared were also stipulated.

The Court noted that it was up to the State Legislature to prescribe by law, that the electoral rolls prepared for Parliamentary and Legislative Assemble Elections should be the basis of for elections to Panchayat Raj Institution and Urban Local Bodies. Court further observed that it was out of their purview to decide and direct such issues and was totally the wisdom of the legislature. Court appreciated the intentions of the petitioner that he wanted to ensure that all those who had the right to vote were permitted to exercise the franchise and arbitrary deletion of their names from the electoral rolls was avoided.

It was held that the power of superintendence conferred on Election Commission was similar to the power conferred on the State Legislature. The Court observed the scope of Article 324 of the Constitution of India, in A.C Jose v. Sivan Pillai, (1984) 2 SCC 656,  where it was held that, “when there is no Parliamentary Legislation, or Rule made under the said legislation, the Commission is free to pass any orders in respect of the conduct of elections; and where the Act or the Rules are silent, the Commission has plenary powers, under Article 324 of the Constitution of India, to give any direction in respect of the conduct of elections.”

Hence the petition was dismissed as the representation was already made before the Election Commission.[Ravindra Jugran v. State Election Commission, 2019 SCC OnLine Utt 913, decided on 12-09-2019]

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