Madhya Pradesh High Court Observes Preparation of Electoral Roll To Be Intermediate Stage in Process of Election

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The present petition was filed to get some irregularities corrected in the preparation of Voter List. The Court observed that it would be an intermediate stage in the process of election, hence Petitioner could file an election petition once the elections got over. The present petition was thus dismissed.

Background

The Petitioners were the members of Old  Association and voters given the Memorandum of Association and Rules and Regulations of Daly College, Indore. They had filed a Petition before the Court contending that some irregularities had taken place in the preparation of Voter List and despite repeated representations, those had not been corrected and the respondents were proceeding ahead with the election programme. 

However, the respondents had contended that the present petition being premature, could not be allowed. Moreover, the petitioners were free to file an election petition before the appropriate forum. 

Applicant’s Submissions

The Petitioners had prayed to delete the names of some members from the voter list and for use of Electronic Ballot in place of Paper Ballot.

Shri Sudarshan Joshi, learned counsel appearing on behalf of the Petitioner had vehemently argued before this Court that even though the process of the election had begun, it could be corrected and thereafter, the elections could be held. Stated that, a large number of irregularities had taken place in the matter of preparation of Voter List.

Respondent’s Submissions

Shri Gaurav Chhabra, learned counsel for the Respondent No.1 had argued that elections had been announced on 10/09/2020 and the list of voters was uploaded online on 12/09/2020. Corrections in the voter list were permissible only up to 03/10/2020, however, when the process of the election had already begun, the present petition was filed on 10/11/2020. Hence, it must not be allowed.

Reliance was placed upon a judgment delivered by the Apex Court in the case of Shri Sant Sadguru Janardan Swami Sahakari Dugdha Utpadak Sanstha and Another Vs. State of Maharashtra and Others (2001) 8 SCC 509, contending that breach of mandatory provisions of Rules during the preparation of electoral roll could be challenged in an election petition. So, Petitioners were free to file an election petition before an appropriate forum. 

Interveners’ Submissions

Shri Vijay Assudani and Shri Ajay Bagadiya, appearing on behalf of the interveners, had also contended that the present petition deserved to be dismissed as the election could not be challenged in a Writ Petition after the process of the election had begun and the Petitioners shall certainly be free to approach an appropriate forum after the elections would get concluded by filing an election petition. 

Court’s Observations

After perusing the record of the case and hearing to the learned counsel for both the parties, the Court had several observations. It was observed that there had been a fixed date for receiving objections regarding Voter List. Moreover, the elections were now at the final stage and postal ballots were also sent to people. The voting had been scheduled on 13/12/2020.

The Court observed that similar issues had been adjudicated at the Supreme Court which could be referred to, like the case of Shri Sant Sadguru Janardan Swami (Moingiri Maharaj) Sahakari Dugdha Utpadak Sanstha and Ors. (Supra), in which it was held that in light of  Section 144X which provided that the various stages of the election would also include the preparation of the list of voters, hence the preparation of the electoral roll would be considered as an intermediate stage in the process of the election of any specified society.

However in. 1994 (2) Maharashtra Law Journal, 1527, although it was held that the preparation of the list of voters would be an intermediate stage in the election process, that did not debar the High Court to entertain a petition under Article 226 of the Constitution challenging the validity of electoral roll. If the appellant would have a contention that certain mandatory provisions of the rules were not complied with while its preparation, the same could be challenged under Rule 81(d)(iv) using an election petition.

Court’s Directions

In light of considering the aforesaid judgments, the Court did not find any reason to interfere with the process of election, which had still been going on.

However, it was directed that the Petitioner shall be at liberty to ventilate their grievances once the elections would get over keeping in view the statutory provisions governing this field read with the Memorandum of Association and Rules and Regulations of Daly College, Indore.

Accordingly, the Writ Petition was dismissed with the aforesaid liberty.

Click here to read the judgment.


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