July 15, 2021 12:19:45 am
A division bench of the Gujarat High Court on Wednesday admitted an appeal filed by four persons challenging the rejection of their nominations for elections to the managing committee of the Bharuch District Central Cooperative Bank Limited and said the petitioners were “giving an opportunity (to the bank) to oust objectors”.
The petitioners — Surjitsinh Mangrola, Dharmeshkumar Patel, Narendrasinh Aadmar and Rajendrasinh Mangrola — who approached the Gujarat HC on July 1, had submitted their nomination forms for the bank’s managing committee election on June 29.
However, an application to the election officer by an objector, pointed out that details were incomplete in the nomination forms and the petitioners did not sign below the verification giving details on whether they belong to the Scheduled Castes or Scheduled Tribes or small and marginal farmers.
The objection was upheld by the election officer who passed an order rejecting the nomination forms of the petitioners on June 29. The petitioners moved pleas before the Gujarat HC which was heard by a single-judge bench that did not grant any relief, following which they appealed before a division bench.
On Wednesday, a division bench comprising Chief Justice Vikram Nath and Justice Biren Vaishnav admitted the appeal for further hearing.
Advocate BM Mangukiya representing the petitioners, submitted before the bench that the Gujarat Co-operative Societies Act, 1961 was amended in 2015, deleting a clause (section 74B) that provided for reservation of seats for special categories. However, a provision in the Gujarat Specified Cooperative Societies Election to Committee Rules, 1982, specifically rule 19 (3), makes it mandatory for candidates to make a declaration if the candidate belongs to SC, ST, small farmer or marginal farmer category.
The petitioners pointed out that without any reserved seat mandated, the rule of signing a declaration will not apply and cannot be a ground to reject the nomination.
Government pleader Manisha Shah, representing the election officer, submitted that every nomination paper presented under Rule 19 shall have to be complete as provision in the Act mandates one reserved seat for the Scheduled Castes or the Scheduled Tribes and two seats for Women in the managing committee of every society.
The bench asked the petitioner’s advocate why they did not make the necessary declaration with signatures. “There was a printed form, what was stopping you from filling that? You did not sign and that missing signature is the problem now… You gave them an opportunity. They are always looking for an opportunity to oust their objectors (and)…. You gave them an opportunity to debar you…”
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