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"No Clear Prohibition In Law, Not For Court To Guide Policy": Delhi HC Dismisses Plea To Remove Election Symbols From Ballot Papers In MCD Polls

Nupur Thapliyal
26 April 2022 7:37 AM GMT
No Clear Prohibition In Law, Not For Court To Guide Policy: Delhi HC Dismisses Plea To Remove Election Symbols From Ballot Papers In MCD Polls
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The Delhi High Court has recently dismissed a plea seeking to remove election symbols from the ballot paper, including the Electronic Voting Machine for the city's Municipal Corporation polls. A bench comprising of Acting Chief Justice Vipin Sanghi and Justice Navin Chawla observed thus:"Though the level of literacy has increased in the State of Delhi, and the presence of a photographs of...

The Delhi High Court has recently dismissed a plea seeking to remove election symbols from the ballot paper, including the Electronic Voting Machine for the city's Municipal Corporation polls.

A bench comprising of Acting Chief Justice Vipin Sanghi and Justice Navin Chawla observed thus:

"Though the level of literacy has increased in the State of Delhi, and the presence of a photographs of the candidates on the EVM may also aid in empowering the illiterate to properly exercise their right of franchise in favour of the candidate of their choice, in our view, the election symbols still play an important part in the election process in the country. In our view, in the absence of a clear prohibition, it is not for this Court to guide the policy or frame a law in this regard."

Noting that Article 243ZA of the Constitution of India vests the power and duty to conduct elections to the Municipalities on the State Election Commission and that the State Legislature has been empowered to make provisions with respect to all matters relating to elections to the Municipalities, the Court was of the view that it is for these institutions to decide the Rules for conduct of a free and fair election to the Municipality, including use of election symbols.

"The above Rules are not in challenge before us in the present writ petition. They clearly recognise the National and States Parties and their symbols, and also prescribe the procedure for the allotment of symbols to the independent candidates," the Court observed.

It was argued by the petitioner that the Municipal Corporation of Delhi was an institution of local self-governance under Article 243R which states that all the seats in a Municipality shall be filled by persons chosen by direct election from the territorial constituencies in the Municipal area, and for this purpose, each Municipal area shall be divided into territorial constituencies to be known as Wards.

It was submitted that the important object of the Seventy-third and Seventy-fourth Amendments of the Constitution was to strengthen the grass-root democracy for local self-governance and decentralization at the rural and the urban level, respectively.

Therefore, it was argued that the presence of reserved symbols of recognized political parties on the ballot paper or EVM, therefore, undermined the object of local self-governance.

It was also argued that the candidates who do not belong to any recognised political party are randomly allotted the election symbols, which may not have any relevance to their character or personality. According to the petitioner, the same may portray a misleading picture of the candidate and vitiates the fairness of the election.

On the other hand, the counsel for State Election Commission submitted that Rule 15 and Rule 24 of the Delhi Municipal Corporation (Election of Councillors) Rules, 2012 provide for recognition by the State Election Commission of the National parties and the State parties and their symbols for the National Capital Territory of Delhi.

It was submitted that the said Rules provide for the process of allotment of the symbols to the contesting candidates and that they had not been challenged by the petitioner. Accordingly, it was submitted that in absence of such challenge, the petition was liable to be dismissed.

At the outset, the Court refused to accept the submissions of the petitioner that there was discrimination against the independent candidates inasmuch as they are provided with the election symbols only about fifteen days prior to the date of the poll.

"The election symbol of a recognised political party is allotted to a candidate who has been validly nominated by the said political party. On the other hand, the candidates contesting as an independent, are allotted symbols, as far as practicable, of their own choice. It is not shown that any different process of allotment of symbols is followed in the National or the States Election," the Court observed.

Accordingly, the plea was dismissed.

Case Title: ALKA GHALOT v. GOVT. OF NCT OF DELHI & ORS.

Citation: 2022 LiveLaw (Del) 371

Click Here To Read Order 


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