Libertatem Magazine

Petition Before Andhra Pradesh High Court Points Out Irregularities Which Vitiate Fair and Free Elections To Various Divisions of Eluru Municipal Corporation

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Pointing out the mistakes in the alleged draft electoral roll published on 03.02.2020 and the final list on 05.02.2020, without taking into consideration the objections raised by the writ petitioners and their representation dated 17.02.2020, as bad in law, Writ petition No.3876 of 2020 came to be filed. By its judgment dated 05.03.2020, the learned Single Judge allowed the Writ Petition, directing the respondents to rectify the errors and the illegalities pointed out by the petitioners, before issuing the notification, to conduct fair and free elections to Eluru Municipal Corporation. 

Issue Raised

  1. For consideration in this appeal whether the electoral roll, which is sought to be made the basis to conduct elections to Eluru Municipal Corporation, conforms with the law?
  2. Whether the defects pointed out by the petitioners in the voter’s list causes prejudice to the rights of any electors or political party or the candidates to be contested in the ensuing election of the Eluru Municipal Corporation?
  3. Whether the Bar under Article 243 (z)(g) of the Constitution of India disentitled to claim relief in the writ petition?

Arguments by the Petitioner

Sri Posani Venkateswarlu, learned counsel for the Writ Petitioners, submits that the Writ Appeal itself is not maintainable. According to him, learned Single Judge directed the District Collector, West Godavari District, to rectify the errors and the illegalities pointed out by the writ petitioners before issuing the notification for holding free and fair elections, but the same was not challenged by the District Collector, instead, the State and the Eluru Municipal Corporation preferred the Writ Appeal, which is not maintainable. Coming to the merits of the case, the counsel submitted that the mistakes, as existed, were not corrected and the objections raised by the Writ Petitioners were never taken into consideration before issuing the final notification. 

The order of the learned Single Judge in I.A. No.2 of 2021 in W.P.No.4110 of 2021, to show that the errors in the voter’s list were not corrected, despite a specific direction by this Court, in the order impugned in the writ petition, though more than a year has elapsed from the date of the order. Learned counsel also pointed out how the mandatory requirements under Andhra Pradesh Municipal Corporation (Preparation and Publication of Electoral Rolls) Rules, 2001 and Municipal Corporation Act were not complied with.

Arguments by the Respondent

In reply, the learned Advocate General submits that the State as well as the Municipal Corporation, who were parties to the Writ Petition, were aggrieved by the orders passed and as such, there is no bar for challenging the same, as the order came to be passed misconstruing the provisions of law. Because of the above, he submits that the argument of the counsel for the Writ Petitioners that Writ Appeal itself is not maintainable may not be correct and because of the foregoing discussion, it can be said that it is a fit case to allow the writ petition by issuing Writ of Mandamus, directing the respondents to rectify the errors and illegalities pointed out by these petitioners mentioned above, before issuing a notification to conduct fair and free elections in Eluru Municipal Corporation.

Court’s Observation

In the case Lakshmi Charan Sen And Ors. Etc. vs. A.K.M.Hassan Uzzaman and Ors., the fact that the revision of electoral rolls, either intensive or summary, is undertaken by the Election Commission does not have the effect of putting the electoral roll last published in cold storage. The revision of electoral rolls is a continuous process that has to go on, elections or no elections. In the case P.T.Rajan v. T.P.M.Sahir and Others the Hon’ble Apex Court observed as under:

Furthermore, even if the statute specifies a time for publication of the electoral roll, the same by itself could not have been held to be mandatory. Such provision would be directory in nature. It is a well-settled principle of law that where a statutory functionary is asked to perform a statutory duty within the time prescribed.

From the above two judgments, it is also clear that preparation of Electoral Roll is a continuous process and even if a revision of the Electoral Roll is not complete, the electoral roll, for the time being in force, must hold the field and, the Election cannot be postponed for non-consideration of certain claims & objections.

Court’s Decision

For the aforesaid reasons, the finding of the learned Single Judge that the electoral roll that was published on 03.02.2020 is a draft roll is incorrect. Further, there is no material on record to show that a voters list was published on 05.02.2020, hence, the Writ Appeal is allowed and the order dated 05.03.2020 passed by the learned Single Judge in W.P.No.3876 of 2020 is set aside. 

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