28 Nov 2023 10:04 AM GMT
The Karnataka High Court has directed the State Election Commission and other Agencies associated with the election process to implement directions given by the Apex Court pertaining to providing a form in which the contesting candidates are to declare their involvement in pending criminal cases, if any. The petitioner's election had been annulled by the Election Tribunal on the ground that...
The Karnataka High Court has directed the State Election Commission and other Agencies associated with the election process to implement directions given by the Apex Court pertaining to providing a form in which the contesting candidates are to declare their involvement in pending criminal cases, if any.
The petitioner's election had been annulled by the Election Tribunal on the ground that he had failed to disclose pending criminal cases against him, and such annulment was upheld by a single bench of the High Court.
In dismissing an appeal by the petitioner, against the single bench order, a division bench of Chief Justice Prasanna B Varale and Justice Krishna S Dixit held:
The law relating to disclosure of criminal antecedents of the candidates in the Electoral fray has further marched from April to May and now to the June of life. The State Election Commission and other Agencies associated with the election process should implement the directions of the Apex Court by issuing or incorporating requisite forms in the matter of elections to all Local Bodies in the State. This direction we are issuing so that purity in politics in general and purity in election process in particular is achieved.”
The Bench further took note of the Apex Court's judgment in the case of Public Interest Foundation vs Union of India (2018) wherein it had directed as follows:
(i) Each contesting candidate shall fill up the form as provided by the Election Commission and the form must contain all the particulars as required therein. (ii) It shall state, in bold letters, with regard to the criminal cases pending against the candidate. (iii) If a candidate is contesting an election on the ticket of a particular party, he/she is required to inform the party about the criminal cases pending against him/her. (iv) The concerned political party shall be obligated to put up on its website the aforesaid information pertaining to candidates having criminal antecedents. (v) The candidate as well as the concerned political party shall issue a declaration in the widely circulated newspapers in the locality about the antecedents of the candidate and also give wide publicity in the electronic media. When we say wide publicity, we mean that the same shall be done at least thrice after filing of the nomination papers.
The petitioner, H V Ashok, had filed the present appeal against a single bench order wherein his plea challenging the annulment of his election by the Election Tribunal, on grounds of non-disclosure of criminal antecedents, had been dismissed.
The petitioner argued that the Election Tribunal could not have annulled his elections, since he had declared his ‘criminal antecedents’ in the Affidavit/Nomination Papers. He further argued that this aspect of the matter had been lost sight of by the Single Judge who erroneously dismissed the writ petition.
Upon hearing the parties, the bench dismissed the appeal on the grounds of maintainability and held:
“The challenge to the order of the Election Tribunal was by invoking Article 227 of the Constitution of India, which vests a limited supervisory jurisdiction in the High Court, the other provision namely Article 226 having been ornamentally mentioned in the pleadings of the appellant herein who was the writ petitioner. Admittedly, the order annulling the election of the appellant was made by the statutory Tribunal that has been constituted, may be ex officio under the provisions of the Karnataka Panchayat Raj Act, 1993. Such challenges are essentially treated under Article 227 and not Article 226. If that be so, an intra-court appeal does not lie.”
Further, even on merits, the Bench was of the opinion that the Single Judge only after examining the matter had recorded a finding that the appellant herein had criminal antecedents and the same had not been disclosed in the affidavit accompanying the nomination papers.
It concluded that the single judge's order merited no interference, since, to ensure the purity of elections, the Apex Court in many decisions had held that the disclosure of such antecedents was a right of the electors to be able to make an informed decision about the candidates in the electoral race and non-disclosure would therefore be a ground for setting aside the election of Returned Candidates.
Accordingly, it dismissed the appeal.
Appearance: Advocate S V Prakash for Appellant.
Advocate Kamalakara S M for R-1.
AGA Niloufer Akbar for R-4 & R-5.
Citation No: 2023 LiveLaw (Kar) 452
Case Title: H V Ashok And H N Gopal and Other
Case No: Writ Appeal No. 1249 of 2023
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