Difference between revisions of "MANJIT KAUR V. STATE OF PUNJAB 2010 INSC 1191"

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IN THE HIGH COURT OF PUNJAB AND HARYANA AT
                    CHANDIGARH.
                                         C.W.P. No. 10666 & 10667 of 2008
                                         DATE OF DECISION : 26.09.2008

Manjit Kaur

                                                         .... PETITIONER
                                  Versus

Punjab State Election Commission, Chandigarh and others

                                                      ..... RESPONDENTS
                                                 C.W.P. No. 10668 of 2008
                                         DATE OF DECISION : 26.09.2008

Balwinder Kaur

                                                         .... PETITIONER
                                  Versus

Punjab State Election Commission, Chandigarh and others

                                                      ..... RESPONDENTS

CORAM :- HON'BLE MR. JUSTICE SATISH KUMAR MITTAL

             HON'BLE MR. JUSTICE JASWANT SINGH


Present: Mr. R.S. Bajaj, Advocate,

             for the petitioners.
             Mr. N.D.S. Mann, Addl. A.G., Punjab,
             for the respondents.
                         ***

SATISH KUMAR MITTAL , J. This order shall dispose of Civil Writ Petitions No. 10666 to 10668 of 2008. CWPs No. 10666 and 10667 of 2008 have been filed by Manjit Kaur, who was a candidate for the election of Panch of Gram Panchayat, Village Rohjari, District Jalandhar, from the seat reserved for Scheduled Caste (Women). CWP No. 10668 of 2008 has been filed by Balwinder Kaur, who had withdrawn her nomination paper for contesting the election of Panch from the aforesaid reserve seat.

In all these three petitions, the petitioners have prayed for quashing three separate orders dated 24.5.2008, whereby Additional Deputy Commissioner (General) Jalandhar, while rejecting the nomination papers of Smt. Bholi, Smt. Kiran and Smt. Paramjit Kaur, filed by them to contest the election for the post of Panch from the seat reserved for Scheduled Caste (Women), ordered to countermand the poll only to the post of Panch reserved for Scheduled Caste (Women). The petitioners have further prayed for issuing direction to the official respondents to declare Smt. Manjit Kaur (petitioner in CWPs No. 10666 and 10667 of 2008) as elected unopposed to the post of Panch reserved for Scheduled Caste (Women).

In the present case, as per Section 10 of the Punjab Panchayati Raj Act, 1994 (hereinafter referred to as `the Act'), the aforesaid Gram Panchayat consists of 5 Panches. As per Section 11 of the Act, one seat of Panch is reserved for General, one for Women, one for Backward Class, one for Scheduled Caste and one for Scheduled Caste (Women).

For the post of Panch, reserved for Scheduled Caste (Women), 6 nomination papers were filed i.e. by Manjit Kaur (petitioner in CWPs No. 10666 and 10667 of 2008), Balwinder Kaur (petitioner in CWP No. 10668 of 2008), Krishna, Bholi, Kiran and Paramjit Kaur. However, Balwinder Kaur and Krishna withdrew their candidature on 19.5.2008. After scrutiny, in spite of the objections raised by Manjit Kaur and Balwinder Kaur, nomination papers of Bholi, Kiran and Paramjit Kaur were accepted.

Aggrieved against the acceptance of the nomination papers of Bholi and Kiran, petitioner Manjit Kaur filed CWPs No. 8879 and 8907 of 2008, seeking direction to respondent No.5 to reject their nomination papers. Similarly, aggrieved against the acceptance of the nomination paper of Paramjit Kaur, petitioner Balwinder Kaur filed CWP No. 8909 of 2008, seeking the same direction.

All the aforesaid three petitions were disposed of by this Court on 22.5.2008, with a direction to respondent No.3 to consider and decide the representation filed by the petitioners in accordance with law, before 24.5.2008. In pursuance of the said direction, respondent No.3 passed the impugned orders and held that the Returning Officer has wrongly accepted the nomination papers of the aforesaid three persons. Consequently, their nomination papers were rejected and countermanding of the poll only to the post of Panch, reserved for Scheduled Caste (Women) was ordered.

A perusal of the impugned orders reveals that the nomination paper of Smt. Bholi was rejected on the ground that her husband Darshan Ram is in unauthorized occupation of the Panchayat land and a case for his eviction is pending in the Court of Collector, Jalandhar, therefore, Smt. Bholi was ineligible to contest the election. The nomination paper of Smt. Kiran was rejected on the ground that she belongs to Christian community and the SC certificate of her father has been cancelled by SDM, Jalandhar-2. Further, it was observed that as per the directions of the Government of Punjab, Christian community falls in Backward Class. Therefore, Smt. Kiran was ineligible to contest the election for the post of Panch, reserved for SC (Women). The nomination paper of Smt. Paramjit Kaur was rejected on the ground that her husband, namely Sh. Joginder Singh, is in unauthorized occupation of the Panchayat land and a case for his eviction is pending in the Court of Collector, Jalandhar, therefore, Smt. Paramjit Kaur was ineligible to contest the election.

It is the case of the petitioners that when out of 6 candidates for the post of Panch, reserved for Scheduled Caste (Women), 2 candidates withdrew their nomination papers and the the nomination papers of 3 candidates were rejected, then only petitioner remained in field, therefore, in stead of countermanding the election of the said seat, petitioner Manjit Kaur should have been declared elected as unopposed, in view of the provisions contained in Section 54 of the Punjab State Election Commission Act, 1994 (hereinafter referred to as `the Election Commission Act').

In none of the petitions, the petitioners have impleaded Smt. Bholi, Smt. Kiran and Smt. Paramjit Kaur, as respondents, though they are the interested parties in the dispute involved in the case. Written statements on behalf of the respondents have been filed in all the three cases.

We have heard learned counsel for the parties and gone through the contents of the petition as well as the written statement.

Learned counsel for the petitioners contends that when out of 6 candidates for the post of Panch reserved for the Scheduled Caste (Women), 2 had withdrawn their nomination papers on 19.5.2008 and vide orders dated 24.5.2008, nomination papers of the aforesaid 3 candidates were rejected, then in view of Section 54 of the Election Commission Act, petitioner Manjit Kaur should have been declared elected unopposed as Panch from the seat reserved for Scheduled Caste (Women), being the only candidate. He submits that the election could have been countermanded only in the circumstances, as mentioned in Section 60 of the Election Commission Act.

On the other hand, learned counsel for respondents submits that in the facts and circumstances of the case, after rejecting the nomination papers of 3 candidates, respondent No.3 was fully justified in countermanding the polls for one post of Panch, reserved for Scheduled Caste (Women), as names of those 3 candidates were already notified as candidates for the election to the post of Panch, reserved for Scheduled Caste (Women) and ballot papers had already been printed.

After hearing the arguments of learned counsel for the parties, we are of the opinion that in the facts and circumstances of the case, respondent No.3 was fully justified in countermanding the election for one post of Panch, reserved for Scheduled Caste (Women).

Undisputedly, on the day of scrutiny, the Returning Officer, after examining the nomination papers and hearing the objections of the petitioners, accepted the nomination papers of the aforesaid 3 candidates. The nomination papers of two other candidates were also accepted. Thereafter, except the two, none of them withdrew her nomination paper. Immediately after the expiry of the period within which the candidature may be withdrawn, the Returning Officer prepares and publishes a list of contesting candidates, in terms of Section 43 (1) of the Election Commission Act. Undisputedly, in the present case also, list of the contesting candidates against one seat of Panch, reserved for Scheduled Caste (Women) was prepared and published. Thereafter, symbols were also allotted to all the contesting candidates and ballot papers were printed. The poll was to take place on 26.5.2008. Before the date of election, the aforesaid orders, cancelling the nomination papers of 3 candidates, were passed on 24.5.2008. Though in the Act or in the Election Commission Act, there is no provision for rejection of the nomination papers, after their acceptance, but the orders dated 24.5.2008 were passed by respondent No.3 on the basis of the orders, passed by this Court, whereby representations of the petitioners were ordered to be considered and decided in accordance with law, before 24.5.2008. Since the elections for one seat of Panch, reserved for Scheduled Caste (Women) were postponed, therefore, the aforesaid 3 candidates, whose nomination papers have been rejected, might not have challenged those orders. Since those 3 candidates have not been impleaded as respondents, we are not aware whether they have challenged the orders dated 24.5.2008 or not. In our view, when after the expiry of the period within which candidature may be withdrawn, the list of contesting candidates was prepared and published and the ballot papers were prepared, then there was no occasion for the Returning Officer to declare the petitioner to be elected as unopposed Panch under Section 54 of the Election Commission Act, which provision reads as under :

"Procedure in contested and uncontested elections - (1) If the number of contesting candidates is more than the number of seats to be filled, a poll shall be taken. (2) If the number of such candidates is equal to the number of seats to be filled, the Returning Officer shall forthwith declare all such candidates to be duly elected to fill those seats. (3) If the number of such candidates is less than the numbers of seats to be filled, the Returning Officer shall forthwith declare all such candidates to be elected and the Election Commission shall, by notification in the Office Gazette, call upon the constituency or the elected members, to elect a person or persons to fill the remaining seat or seats, as the case may be : Provided that where the constituency or the elected members having already been called upon under this sub- section, has or have failed to elect a person or the requisite number of persons, as the case may be, to fill the vacancy or vacancies, the Election Commission shall not be bound to call again upon the constituency, or such members to elect a person or persons until it is satisfied that if called upon again, there will be no such failure on the part of the constituency of such members." On 24.5.2008, when the nomination papers of 3 candidates were rejected by respondent No.3 on the representations made by the petitioners, names of all the candidates have already been published and they were allotted symbols and their names also figured in the ballot papers, therefore, it was felt by respondent No.3 that the election for one seat of Panch, reserved for Scheduled Caste (Women) should be countermanded. If the nomination papers of these three candidates would have rejected on 19.5.2008, then the two candidates, who had withdrawn their nomination papers on 19.5.2008, might not have withdrawn their nomination papers. Thus, in our opinion, on that date i.e. 24.5.2008, respondent No.3 was having no power to declare the petitioner elected as unopposed. This could have been done on the day of withdrawal of the nomination papers i.e. on 19.5.2008, if after the withdrawal of other nomination papers only one candidate remains in contest for one post. This was not the position in this case on 19.5.2008. Therefore, in these facts and circumstances, we are not inclined to interfere in the impugned orders, passed by respondent No.3 in exercise of our power under Article 226 of the Constitution of India.

Dismissed.