3 May 2023 6:32 AM GMT
The Delhi High Court has appointed Justice P. Krishna Bhat, former judge of Karnataka High Court, as the Administrator to conduct the elections of Basketball Federation of India in accordance with National Sports Code and Model Election Guidelines. Noting that the term of the office bearers of the federation stood expired on February 18, Justice Purushaindra Kumar Kaurav said that...
The Delhi High Court has appointed Justice P. Krishna Bhat, former judge of Karnataka High Court, as the Administrator to conduct the elections of Basketball Federation of India in accordance with National Sports Code and Model Election Guidelines.
Noting that the term of the office bearers of the federation stood expired on February 18, Justice Purushaindra Kumar Kaurav said that the Administrator shall function till the newly elected body takes over the charge of BFI.
The court ordered that there shall be an endeavour to conclude the election process at the earliest while leaving it open to the Administrator to charge appropriate remuneration for his assistance as per his discretion which shall be payable by BFI without any delay.
“All concerned are directed to co-operate with the Administrator for early conduct of the elections,” the court directed.
It also suspended the interim order passed on February 16 wherein the present office bearers were directed to continue to function with a rider that no policy decision would be taken without the leave of the court.
The court was hearing a batch of three petitions concerning the issue of election of the office bearers and members of the Executive Committee of Basketball Federation of India for the term 2023-2027.
One of the petitions was filed by Pondicherry Basketball Association to appoint any retired judge of the High Court or Supreme Court to supervise and monitor the conduct of elections.
The second petition was moved by 15 individuals, 13 of whom were against their “illegal ousting from contesting the elections” whereas two others were supporting the candidature of those 13. They were aggrieved by an order passed by Returning Officer on February 10 rejecting their nominations.
The third plea was filed by 21 individuals challenging the declaration of result by the Returning Officer on February 13 alleging that it was done without holding any election.
The question before the court was whether the nomination forms submitted by the petitioners suffered from substantial defect and whether the decision of rejecting them by the Returning Officer was correct or not.
Observing that the purpose of a nomination form or its scrutiny is not to limit the poll of potential candidates and exclude qualified individuals from running for office, Justice Kaurav said:
“Any restriction or unreasonable scrutiny can undermine the principle of equal opportunity and lead to a less representative governance. The same can also reduce the diversity of candidates and limit voters‘ choice. It may also result in unqualified or corrupt individuals running for office. The same will have the effect of undermining public trust in the election process and may result in poor governance. Erosion of public trust in the democratic process cannot be countenanced.”
The court also said that the role of the Returning Officer is pivotal for maintaining purity of the election process, which is the heart and soul of democracy.
“Any improper rejection of nomination papers of the candidates on technical, or clerical errors or discrepancies, shall cause immense impact on the institution for which the elections are to be held. The actions of RO must invoke confidence in the impartial conduct of the election. Any departure may give rise to doubting the impartiality, and resulting from it, the purity of the election, it may thus result in adversely affecting the rights of the contesting candidates and public at large,” it added.
Furthermore, the court said that the Returning Officer had erred in rejecting en bloc nomination forms of a large number of candidates on a “singular non-significant ground” for elections of BFI.
“The reason of rejection of nomination form being insignificant and flimsy. Hence, this court is of the considered view that the rejection order passed by the RO deserves to be set aside,” it said.
The court set aside the orders passed by the Returning Officer rejecting the nomination forms of all the petitioners on similar grounds, along with the declaration of result.
Title: PONDICHERRY BASKETBALL ASSOCIATION v. UNION OF INDIA and other connected matters
Citation: 2023 LiveLaw (Del) 364
Click Here To Read Order