Updated: November 25, 2020 5:30:08 am
The Supreme Court on Tuesday dismissed a plea by former BSF personnel Tej Bahadur challenging the election of Prime Minister Narendra Modi from Varanasi Lok Sabha constituency in May 2019.
A bench of Chief Justice S A Bobde and A S Bopanna upheld the Allahabad High Court’s decision rejecting his election petition and said Bahadur lacks the locus standi under the Representation of the People Act, 1951, to file the petition, and therefore it “has been rightly nipped in the bud”.
As per Section 81 of the Act, only an elector – who is entitled to vote in the election to which the petition relates — or a person who was a candidate in the election can file a poll petition.
“In this case, the election is to Varanasi Parliamentary seat. Obviously, the appellant is not an elector registered in Varanasi constituency since he is admittedly enrolled as an elector of Bhiwani, Mahendragarh Parliamentary Constituency, Haryana”, the bench said.
The court said Bahadur also did not fulful the requirement of being a duly nominated candidate, as his nomination was rejected for want of a certificate from the Election Commission, stating that he was not dismissed from government service for corruption or disloyalty to the State.
The court said: “The question that arises is whether the appellant can claim to have been a duly nominated candidate at the said election. The answer must be in the negative. It is a condition for a valid nomination of a person who has been dismissed from service, that the nomination paper must be accompanied by a certificate to the effect that the person seeking nomination has not been dismissed for corruption or disloyalty to the State. Section 33(3) of the Act provides the consequence of the absence of such certificate…that such a person ‘shall not be deemed to be duly nominated as a candidate’.”
“The law itself deems that such a person cannot be duly nominated,” the bench said, adding that the requirement for such a certificate in Section 33 (3) “must be read as obligatory”.
The court ruled, “We…see no merit in the appeal and do not consider it necessary to issue notice to the respondent [Modi]. The appeal does not raise any arguable question of fact or law and admitting the appeal would amount to an exercise in futility for the court to do so.”
Bahadur, who was dismissed from BSF on April 19, 2017, had filed nominations to contest the Lok Sabha polls from Varanasi but it was rejected since it was not accompanied by the requisite certificate from EC.
He approached the Allahabad HC, urging the court to declare Modi’s election void “on the ground that the appellant’s nomination was improperly rejected and that the nomination of the respondent (Modi) was wrongly accepted for want of disclosure of certain facts”. The HC dismissed Bahadur’s petition on the ground that he had no locus to challenge Modi’s election from Varanasi Parliamentary constituency since he was neither an elector nor a candidate there.
In his appeal to SC, Bahadur contended that he was not given “sufficient time” to produce the certificate, but the top court concluded that “…it is clear that the appellant neither possessed the required certificate on the date of the filing the nomination, at the time of scrutiny, on the next day but one following the date fixed for scrutiny or even at the time of the filing the Election Petition”.
“We are of the view that the mandate of the law that such a person shall not be deemed to be duly nominated must be given full effect and no person must be considered as entitled to claim that he has been duly nominated even though he does not comply with the requirement of law…Any other construction of the scheme of the law in this regard would be startling as it would enable a person who was not an elector and not even entitled to be nominated as a candidate for an election to question the election of a returned candidate.”, the bench added.
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