The Supreme Court on Friday dismissed a PIL disputing the election of Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi from Maninagar constituency in the 2012 Assembly polls because he left the column meant to specify marital status in his affidavit blank.
The PIL claimed that Modi had only put a hyphen mark against the column,and this was in breach of an apex court order as well as the Election Commission guidelines.
This type of issue cannot be adjudicated in a PIL. The person concerned (Modi) has already explained to the Chief Election Officer the alleged defects in the affidavit. We cannot go into such issues, a Bench of Chief Justice P Sathasivam and Justice Ranjan Gogoi said.
Appearing for petitioner Sunil Sarawgi,senior advocate Colin Gonsalves contended that the decision by the Election Officer was clearly perverse since not filling up the requisite column was in defiance of the court order in the Resurgence India case as well as the ECs own guidelines.
The Bench,however,told the counsel that it had already examined the affidavit,Modis response and the reasoning of the Election Officer in not rejecting the affidavit. What can be the role of a high court or this court when factual information has already been verified by the Election Officer? We assert that we cannot interfere, the Bench said.
It told Gonsalves that the petitioner should file an election petition if he was still aggrieved,but the court was not going to sit over the findings of the Election Officer.
Sunil had alleged that Modi had filed an incomplete declaration with his nomination papers and had sought quashing of the Election Officers decision to not reject the papers. The petition also sought strict compliance with the SC judgment in the Resurgence India case and passing of appropriate orders by the EC in all cases of breach.
The apex court,in the Resurgence India case,had ruled that no candidate shall be allowed to contest the election if he does not disclose full details about his criminal record,assets,educational qualification,etc in nomination papers.
A Bench led by the Chief Justice had empowered the Returning Officer to reject the nomination papers if the candidate fails to furnish the requisite information despite a reminder.
It held that the issue of withholding complete information affected a citizens right to know under the Constitution and,hence,any abstinence by a candidate was non-negotiable.