‘Not maintainable at this stage’; Delhi HC dismisses petition seeking to set aside order cancelling candidate’s nomination to contest Lok Sabha Election

Delhi High Court

Delhi High Court: In a writ petition filed for setting aside rejection of nomination order dated 07-05-2024 passed by Returning Officer, Sachin Datta, J., applied the principle laid down in N.P. Ponnuswami v. Returning Officer, Namakkal Constituency, (1952) 1 SCC 94 and Manda Jaganath v. K.S. Rathnam, (2004) 7 SCC 492 and held that the petition was not maintainable at this stage at this stage and accordingly dismissed the petition. The Court stated, “the Petitioner is at liberty to avail the remedy under Section 100 of the Representation of the People Act, 1951 upon conclusion of elections.”

Background:

In the instant case, the Petitioner’s nomination to contest the General Election to Lok Sabha from North East Delhi Constituency was rejected vide order 07-05-2024.

Counsel for Petitioner submitted that the Petitioner had complied with all the guidelines issued by Election Commission of India (‘ECI’) in totality and committed no error in filing the nomination form. It was further submitted by the Petitioner that the letter of deficiency was issued dated 06-05-2024, in which all the deficiencies in nomination paper was pointed out, the Respondent gave time to cure the deficiency by 07-05-2024, which was cured by the Petitioner within timeframe. However, Respondent 1 has wrongfully rejected the nomination form of the petitioner. It is further submitted that the rejection of the nomination form of the petitioner is in violation of Section 36(4) of the Representation of the People Act, 1951 and violation of column 4.4, 4.5 of the Scrutiny of Nominations.

Counsel for Respondent 1 while refuting the submission of the Petitioner, stated that the present petition is not maintainable, at this stage, in view of bar under Article 329(b) of the Constitution and the petitioner has the remedy of filing an election petition after the elections are over.

Analysis:

The Court observed that there was a merit in the Respondent’s submission of declaring the present petition not maintainable in terms of the authoritative dicta laid down in N.P. Ponnuswami v. Returning Officer, Namakkal Constituency, (1952) 1 SCC 94, where a Constitution Bench of the Supreme court held that ‘grievance of a candidate with regard to improper rejection of nomination paper by the Returning Officer, can only be raised in election petition to be presented after the election was over, and not at an intermediated stage.’

Further, in Manda Jaganath v. K.S. Rathnam, (2004) 7 SCC 492, the Supreme Court further held that, “In our opinion, whether the Returning Officer is justified in rejecting this Form B submitted by the first respondent herein or not, is not a matter for the High Court to decide in the exercise of its writ jurisdiction. This issue should be agitated by an aggrieved party in an election petition only.”

The Court stated that, “the dicta laid down in the aforesaid judgments squarely applies to the present case. Accordingly, the present petition is not maintainable at this stage, and is consequently dismissed”. The Court further stated that the Petitioner was at liberty to avail the remedy under Section 100 of the Representation of the People Act, 1951 upon conclusion of elections.

[Rippu Yadav v. Election Commission of India, 2024 SCC OnLine Del 3876, Order dated: 22-05-2024]


Advocates who appeared in this case:

For Petitioner: D.B. Yadav, Saurab Yadav, Ishwar Singh, Om Prakash, Advocates.

For Respondents: Rajeev Sharma, Advocate for R-1; Aman Singh and Sameer Vashisht, Advocates (ASC, Civil, GNCTD).; Suruchi Suri, SC for R-2

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