21 Nov 2023 1:01 PM GMT
After a team of observers found irregularities in the Sarpanch elections for Bamhori Madia Gram Panchayath, Madhya Pradesh High Court has disposed of a petition filed by one of the candidates upon an undertaking from the M.P Election Commission that fresh elections will be conducted within 60 days for the Polling Booth No.145.The single-judge bench of Justice Vivek Agarwal also directed that...
After a team of observers found irregularities in the Sarpanch elections for Bamhori Madia Gram Panchayath, Madhya Pradesh High Court has disposed of a petition filed by one of the candidates upon an undertaking from the M.P Election Commission that fresh elections will be conducted within 60 days for the Polling Booth No.145.
The single-judge bench of Justice Vivek Agarwal also directed that the delinquent election officer must be strictly dealt with by the Commission. The SEC has also been given a strict mandate not to depute the said officials for election work again.
“…Strong disciplinary action taken against delinquents be also brought on record by filing the report before the Registry of this Court within the aforesaid period of 60 days”, the court noted in the order about the erring officials that included the polling officer and the returning officer.
Before the High Court, the election commission submitted that the report on irregularities found by the two observers was approved by the election commissioner. Based on this report, the election commission has decided to conduct a re-election for Polling Booth No.145. Hence, the counsel for the Madhya Pradesh Election Commission urged the court to dispose of the petition considering the steps taken so far.
“…Accordingly, this petition is disposed of in terms of the undertaking furnished by Shri Siddharth Seth, learned counsel for the Election Commission that they will be taking steps to conduct election for the post of Sarpanch for Polling Booth No.145, Gram Panchayat Bamhori Madia, Distt. Tikamgarh within a period of 60 days from today. In view of such undertaking, respondents are at liberty to conduct the election for Polling Booth No.145, Gram Panchayat Bamhori Madia, Distt. Tikamgarh within a period of 60 days”, the court accordingly observed in the order.
The difference of votes between the petitioner candidate and the intervener candidate was 50 votes which was the same as the difference of ballots issued as per ‘Kacchi Parchi’ [rough parchi] and the total number of votes polled. Earlier, the High Court had noted that a ‘Kacchi Parchi’ was issued by the polling officer certifying that there were 494 votes in the said polling booth for the relevant election. However, there was a stark difference between the actual number of votes polled, i.e., the 544 ballot papers that were found on which votes were cast, and the number of ballot papers issued as per ‘Kacchi Parchi’. The court then made a prima facie observation that such an obvious difference is sufficient to question the credibility of the entire election process.
Based on the submission made by the counsel for the Election Commission on 31.10.2023, the High Court granted the Commission a week to complete an internal enquiry and to decide whether a fresh poll can be conducted or not. On that occasion, the court had also reprimanded the Election Commission as well as the state government, as per whom there is no provision for issuing a ‘Kacchi Parchi’, for their lukewarm approach in initiating disciplinary proceedings against the polling officer prima facie guilty of violating the rules and regulations
“….Thus, it is prima facie evident that till the whistle was blown, Election Commission was trying to cover up the lapses of the Polling officer and they never came out with a defence that Kacchi Parchi is not a part of the Election process and Polling officer was guilty of violating the Rules and Regulations framed in this behalf, otherwise they would have taken action against the Polling officer”, the court had noted then the about the variance in the arguments adopted by election commission regarding the legality of issuing a ‘Kacchi Parchi’.
Advocate Anil Lala appeared for the petitioner. Advocate Siddharth Seth appeared for the M.P. State Election Commission and Advocate Sanjay Sarwate represented the intervener.
Case Title: Rajabeti Yadav v. The M.P State Election Commission & Ors.
Case No: Writ Petition No. 15558 of 2022
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