10 Aug 2023 4:39 PM GMT
The Jammu and Kashmir High Court has directed the Union Territory (UT) of Ladakh to let candidates of the J&K National Conference (JKNC) contest on their reserved election symbol 'Plough' in the upcoming Ladakh Autonomous Hill Development Council (LAHDC) elections.“Keeping in view that the upcoming General Election of Ladakh Autonomous Hill Development Council (LAHDC) stands announced,...
The Jammu and Kashmir High Court has directed the Union Territory (UT) of Ladakh to let candidates of the J&K National Conference (JKNC) contest on their reserved election symbol 'Plough' in the upcoming Ladakh Autonomous Hill Development Council (LAHDC) elections.
“Keeping in view that the upcoming General Election of Ladakh Autonomous Hill Development Council (LAHDC) stands announced, the petitioner-party is directed to approach the office of the respondents 1 to 3 & 5, for notifying the reserved symbol (Plough)already allotted to it and respondents 1 to 3 & 5 shall notify the symbol allotted to petitioner-party in terms of Paragraphs 10 and 10 (A) of Election Symbols (Reservation and Allotment) Order, 1968, and allow the candidates set up by the petitioner-party to contest on the reserved election symbol (plough) already allotted to the party”, Justice Sindhu Sharma observed.
An order to this effect came on a petition was filed by the party contesting the exclusion of their reserved symbol by the Election Commission for the upcoming LAHDC elections. Adv Shariq Reyaz for JKNC argued that as a recognized State Political Party under Section 29 of the Representation of People Act, 1951, they are entitled to contest the LAHDC elections on the symbol they had been allocated – the "Plough." The party has a historical connection with this symbol, and it serves as a visual representation that resonates with voters, he added.
He further referred to Clause 10 and 10 (A) of the Election Symbol (Reservation and Allotment) Order, 1968, which allows candidates set up by a State Party to contest elections in other States or Union Territories with the symbol reserved for them in their State of recognition and submitted that JKNC as a party recognized in the erstwhile State of Jammu and Kashmir, was entitled to use the "Plough" symbol in LAHD elections.
Furthermore, he invited the attention of the Court towards a communication from the Law Department, quoted by the District Election Officer (District Magistrate), Kargil, which suggested that symbols of political parties operating in the Union Territory before its existence would be saved and reserved as per the relevant provisions of the law.
The Election Commission, represented by Mr. T. M. Shamsi DSGI, countered these arguments by stating that the JKNC is only recognized as a State Political Party for the Union Territory of Jammu and Kashmir, not Ladakh. According to the respondents the Election Symbols (Reservation and Allotment) Order 1968, symbols are reserved only for political parties recognized by the Election Commission as National/State Parties and as such they contended that no symbol had been reserved for the JKNC in Ladakh, as no party had been recognized as a State Party there.
Taking into account the upcoming LAHDC elections and the arguments presented by both parties, the J&K High Court directed the UT of Ladakh to reserve the "Plough" symbol for the JKNC. The court mandated that JKNC approach the relevant authorities to ensure the "Plough" symbol is duly reserved for them, and the Election Commission was directed to follow the provisions of Paragraphs 10 and 10 (A) of the Election Symbols (Reservation and Allotment) Order, 1968, while notifying and allowing candidates set up by the JKNC to contest on the reserved symbol.
The court scheduled the next hearing for September 13, 2023.
Case Title: Jammu and Kashmir National Conference through its General Secretary Ali Mohammad Sagar Vs UT of J&K
Citation: 2023 LiveLaw (JKL) 214
Counsel For Petitioner: Mr. Shariq J. Reyaz, Advocate
Counsel For Respondents: Mr. T. M. Shamsi, DSGI for R1 to R3 & R5 Mr. Shuja-ul-Haq, Advocate for R4
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