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Saturday, February 27, 2021

Palitana civic polls: Forms torn; SEC to consider fresh representation after HC approached

The respondents in the case include the State Election Commission, Election Officer, Bhavnagar District Collector and the Police Inspector of Palitana town.

By: Express News Service | Ahmedabad |
Updated: February 16, 2021 1:16:59 am
Congress, Gujarat High Court, Palitana municipality polls, Bhavnagar, Gujarat local body polls, ahmedabad news, indian expressWhile the 32 aggrieved petitioners had filed the mandate form subsequently, the submission time was recorded to be 5 pm, which was well past the deadline. (File Photo)

Following a rap from a division bench of the Gujarat High Court, the State Election Commission (SEC) on Monday accepted a fresh representation from 32 prospective Congress candidates for the Palitana municipality polls in Bhavnagar, hours after the last day of scrutiny for the candidates closed.

The mandate forms, to be submitted with nomination papers for the upcoming local body elections, were rejected for these 32 candidates after “disgruntled elements and opponents” had torn the documents, leading to the submission of the same past the designated deadline.

In a petition before the high court, the 32 contestants had Sunday sought an urgent hearing in the matter stating the mandate forms were torn up for “reasons beyond their control and on account of absolutely malicious and unfair intervention on the part of disgruntled elements of the opposing party” on February 13.

The last date of filing nomination forms and other supporting documents for the February 28 Palitana municipality elections was February 13, between 11 am and 3 pm. The mandate form is a submission of mandate from the party the candidates are affiliated to.

According to the petitioners, who were to contest from nine wards of the civic body, around 2.30 pm on Saturday, with only half an hour left for the deadline, representatives authorised by the Congress — city party president Karansinh Mori and former Nagarpalika opposition leader Pravinbhai Gadhvi — were going to submit 36 independent mandates, when some “disgruntled elements and opponents, about 20-22 persons, within the building of Palitana municipality, where the office of election officer/returning officer is situated, assaulted the authorised representatives”.

During the scuffle, the mandate forms of the Congress candidates were snatched by these opponents, they stated, following which a chase ensued. By the time the Congress representatives could secure back the mandate forms they were torn, the petitioners said.

As extra mandate papers were available, some mandate papers could be submitted before 3 pm, while for the rest, photocopies of the mandate forms were submitted with a written assurance that the originals will be filled afresh and submitted by February 14, after due verification.
In the case of some others, the mandate form submission time was recorded to be 5 pm, which was well past the deadline.

The petitioners, represented by advocate Anand Yagnik, had submitted before the high court that “such disgruntled elements, by tearing apart the mandate forms of the petitioners, prevented them from submitting their mandate well within the scheduled time in accordance with the law.

This unprecedented situation took place on the premises of the Nagar Palika Office, which is also under CCTV (camera) surveillance, yet the respondents have chosen to turn a blind eye to it, so as to facilitate uncontested elections to ensure the smooth victory of the members of
Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) who are contesting the local body elections”. The respondents in the case included the SEC, Election Officer, Bhavnagar District Collector and the Police Inspector of Palitana town.

The police present on site, the petitioners further submitted, did not act on the transgression and when complained, the Election Officer purportedly stated that he is only responsible for “what happens inside his room and not beyond the four walls”.

On Monday, the high court bench disposed of the petition after the SEC submitted that it will consider a fresh representation, listing the incident and the grievances from 32 Congress candidates for the Palitana municipality polls, if submitted by 7.30 pm Monday, and based on the same, the candidature upon scrutiny of the mandate forms will be finalised by Tuesday.

Advocate Ronith Joy, also representing the petitioners, said, “The SEC’s statement, before the division bench of Justices JB Pardiwala and Ilesh Vora on Monday, came after Justice Pardiwala said he condemns their (SEC’s) conduct since this was a genuine ground and yet the SEC refused to consider it.”

By Monday evening, a representation to this effect was made on behalf of the 32 prospective candidates contesting from nine wards.

The representation, made through advocate Yagnik, stated, “The present representation is made pursuant to statement made by Hon’ble State Election Commissioner before the order could be passed in the captioned petition that if a representation is made to him, the SEC would pass an order directing Election Officer/ Returning Officer to accept the mandate for 32 petitioner candidates on or before 16/02/2021 and thereby the State Election Commission would ensure that the 32 petitioner candidates can participate in the election process and the election for electing councillors for Palitana municipality in all the nine wards as the case may be.”Following a rap from a division bench of the Gujarat High Court, the State Election Commission (SEC) on Monday accepted a fresh representation from 32 prospective Congress candidates for the Palitana municipality polls in Bhavnagar, hours after the last day of scrutiny for the candidates closed.

The mandate forms, to be submitted with nomination papers for the upcoming local body elections, were rejected for these 32 candidates after “disgruntled elements and opponents” had torn the documents, leading to the submission of the same past the designated deadline.

In a petition before the high court, the 32 contestants had Sunday sought an urgent hearing in the matter stating the mandate forms were torn up for “reasons beyond their control and on account of absolutely malicious and unfair intervention on the part of disgruntled elements of the opposing party” on February 13.

The last date of filing nomination forms and other supporting documents for the February 28 Palitana municipality elections was February 13, between 11 am and 3 pm. The mandate form is a submission of mandate from the party the candidates are affiliated to.

According to the petitioners, who were to contest from nine wards of the civic body, around 2.30 pm on Saturday, with only half an hour left for the deadline, representatives authorised by the Congress — city party president Karansinh Mori and former Nagarpalika opposition leader Pravinbhai Gadhvi — were going to submit 36 independent mandates, when some “disgruntled elements and opponents, about 20-22 persons, within the building of Palitana municipality, where the office of election officer/returning officer is situated, assaulted the authorised representatives”.

During the scuffle, the mandate forms of the Congress candidates were snatched by these opponents, they stated, following which a chase ensued. By the time the Congress representatives could secure back the mandate forms they were torn, the petitioners said.

As extra mandate papers were available, some mandate papers could be submitted before 3 pm, while for the rest, photocopies of the mandate forms were submitted with a written assurance that the originals will be filled afresh and submitted by February 14, after due verification.
In the case of some others, the mandate form submission time was recorded to be 5 pm, which was well past the deadline.

The petitioners, represented by advocate Anand Yagnik, had submitted before the high court that “such disgruntled elements, by tearing apart the mandate forms of the petitioners, prevented them from submitting their mandate well within the scheduled time in accordance with the law.

This unprecedented situation took place on the premises of the Nagar Palika Office, which is also under CCTV (camera) surveillance, yet the respondents have chosen to turn a blind eye to it, so as to facilitate uncontested elections to ensure the smooth victory of the members of Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) who are contesting the local body elections”. The respondents in the case included the SEC, Election Officer, Bhavnagar District Collector and the Police Inspector of Palitana town.

The police present on site, the petitioners further submitted, did not act on the transgression and when complained, the Election Officer purportedly stated that he is only responsible for “what happens inside his room and not beyond the four walls”.

On Monday, the high court bench disposed of the petition after the SEC submitted that it will consider a fresh representation, listing the incident and the grievances from 32 Congress candidates for the Palitana municipality polls, if submitted by 7.30 pm Monday, and based on the same, the candidature upon scrutiny of the mandate forms will be finalised by Tuesday.

Advocate Ronith Joy, also representing the petitioners, said, “The SEC’s statement, before the division bench of Justices JB Pardiwala and Ilesh Vora on Monday, came after Justice Pardiwala said he condemns their (SEC’s) conduct since this was a genuine ground and yet the SEC refused to consider it.”

By Monday evening, a representation to this effect was made on behalf of the 32 prospective candidates contesting from nine wards.

The representation, made through advocate Yagnik, stated, “The present representation is made pursuant to statement made by Hon’ble State Election Commissioner before the order could be passed in the captioned petition that if a representation is made to him, the SEC would pass an order directing Election Officer/ Returning Officer to accept the mandate for 32 petitioner candidates on or before 16/02/2021 and thereby the State Election Commission would ensure that the 32 petitioner candidates can participate in the election process and the election for electing councillors for Palitana municipality in all the nine wards as the case may be.”

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