On 20/01/2020, the petitioners were refused to file their nomination papers in the upcoming Delhi Elections due to the large number of candidates. Though the token system was adopted by the electoral body and assured that the candidates who were given token the previous day will be given the first chance, the officials acted in an arbitrary way due to the nomination made by the Chief Minister of Delhi, Arvind Kejriwal. The petitioners have filed a writ petition before the Single Judge Bench of Delhi High Court, challenging this arbitrary action, which was dismissed by the Hon’ble Court as not maintainable and thus the present appeal is filed before the Division Bench of the Hon’ble High Court. The case is posted on February 6, 2020.
The Division Bench of Delhi High Court ordered notice in an appeal filed against the dismissal of the petition filed by the 11 candidates who were desirous to contest elections against the Chief Minister of Delhi, Arvind Kejriwal as not maintainable by a single bench judge. The petition was filed against the rejection of their nomination papers.
On 20/01/2020 pursuant to the collective decision made under the movement ‘chaloochunaavlaade” to contest the Delhi election individually, the petitioners arrived at the election office with duly filled nomination papers, supporting documents and security money. Upon arriving at the office, the petitioners found that a large number of candidates were already present and several other candidates were also reaching the election office. Owing to a large number of candidates present at the election office, the election officer for the sake of administrative convenience adopted the token system, wherein the candidates were given token to file nomination papers as per the serial number.
After collecting nomination papers from few candidates, the election officer refused to receive the nomination papers from rest of the candidates and asked the remaining candidates to come again on the next day to file their nomination papers which is against the election rules that mandate the election officer to receive the nomination papers on the same day on which the candidate is present within the specified time. The refusal of an election officer to receive the nomination papers is illegal and arbitrary. However, the candidates were assured that the tokens issued would remain valid and that they would be called first before the fresh candidates arriving on 21/01/2020.
On the next day i.e. 21/01/2020, to the shock and surprise of the petitioners and the other candidates who were issued token on the previous day, the election officials had canceled the token system instead was noting down the names of the candidates present at the election office in a blank sheet which was also canceled later on that day as the Chief Minister of Delhi, Arvind Kejriwal arrived at the election office to file his nomination papers. The police officers thrashed the candidates standing in the queue as they raised objection for facilitating the Chief Minister to file his nomination papers immediately. Due to the arbitrary action of the police officers, the petitioners and other candidates could not file their nomination papers.
On 23/01/2020 few candidates made representation to the chief Electoral officer and to The Secretary, Ministry of Law, Justice and company affairs (Legislative Department) seeking inquiry against the election officer for the incident happened and for cancellation of nomination of Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal due to whom the other candidates were not able to file their nomination papers. However, there was no response and hence the petitioners filed a writ petition before the Delhi High Court.
Hence the petitioners filed a writ petition under Article 226 of Indian Constitution praying to issue a writ of mandamus directing the election commission and other concerned officials to provide possible reasonable time for the petitioners and other candidates to file their nomination papers thereby facilitating them to contest in the upcoming election and such other reliefs. However, the single bench judge dismissed the writ petition stating that Article 329(b) of the constitution bars the jurisdiction of the court which states that any dispute pertaining to the election must be decided by the appropriate authority by an election petition and further Section 100 of the Representation of People Act, 1951 provides for the grounds on which the high court could declare an election as void. Hence, the court dismissed the writ petition as not maintainable under Article 226 of the Indian Constitution without examining the merits of the case. The judge further observed that filing an election petition after the completion of the election process would be an appropriate remedy for the petitioners. Against the above decision of the single bench judge, the candidates have preferred an appeal before the division bench of Delhi High Court.
1. The petition contends that the single Bench Judge had wrongly dismissed the writ petition filed by the petitioners.
2. It is further contended that the ‘Election Commission’ and its officers come under the category of ‘Constitutional bodies’ as they are responsible for the fair and transparent elections
3. The appellants state that the returning officer had arbitrarily rejected their nomination papers on flimsy grounds and such conduct of the returning officer is illegal.
4. While substantiating the maintainability of the writ petition the petitioner states that the petitioners/ appellants herein did not question the election process as a whole but have approached the court with a desire to participate in the upcoming election which was deprived by the returning officer arbitrarily.
The division Bench of Delhi high court comprising of Chief Justice, Justice DN Patel and Justice Hari Shankar ordered notice to the respondents in the appeal namely, Union of India, Delhi Government, Chief electoral officer, and the returning officer calling them to file their replies to the appeal filed by the 11 candidates. The court directed the matter to be listed on February 6th, 2020 for further proceedings.
Edited by J. Madonna Jephi
Approved & Published – Sakshi Raje
1. Delhi Elections: Delhi HC Issues Notice On Appeal By 11 Persons Whose Nominations From Kejriwal’s Constituency Were Rejected
https://www.livelaw.in/news-updates/delhi-elections-delhi-hc-issues-notice-on-appeal-by-11-persons-whose-nominations-from-kejriwals-constituency-were-rejected-152285 (last visited on 4th February 2020)
2. Appeal against dismissal of plea challenging rejection of nomination of Arvind Kejriwal poll opponents: Delhi HC issues notice https://www.barandbench.com/news/litigation/appeal-against-dismissal-of-plea-challenging-rejection-of-nomination-of-kejriwal-poll-opponents-delhi-hc-issues-notice (last visited on 4th February, 2020)
3. Delhi HC dismisses challenge to rejection of nomination papers of 11 candidates desirous of fighting polls against CM Arvind Kejriwal https://www.barandbench.com/news/litigation/delhi-hc-dismisses-challenge-to-rejection-of-nomination-papers-of-11-candidates-desirous-of-fighting-polls-against-cm-arvind-kejriwal (last visited on 4th February, 2020)