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The Delhi High Court today dismissed an appeal against the dismissal of a writ petition challenging the rejection of nomination papers of 11 candidates (Appellants) desirous of fighting polls against Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal.
The Single Judge Bench had dismissed the writ petition as not maintainable on January 28. The Division Bench of Chief Justice DN Patel and Justice C Hari Shankar opined that there was no error in the order passed by the Single Judge.
It was Appellants' case that the Returning Officer had wrongly rejected their nomination papers, in an arbitrary and malafide manner, and also showed preference to the Delhi Chief Minister when he arrived at the Election Office to file his nomination.
Attempting to distinguish their case from the Supreme Court's decision in NP Ponnuswami vs Returning Officer , Advocate Viplav Sharma for the Appellants argued that rejection was a result of violation of principles of natural justice, leading to the denial of free and fair election in terms of Art 324 of the Constitution.
Sharma contended that he was merely concerned with the election for New Delhi constituency and the polling for the other 69 constituencies could go on as scheduled.
He thus prayed for conduction of election for New Delhi constituency after the inclusion of the Appellants name in the list of candidates by allowing him to file his nomination.
Justice C Hari Shankar, however, stated that the only relief provided under the Representation of People Act, 1951 for rejection of nomination was to declare the election of the successful candidate as void. The same, however, could only be done by way of an Election Petition after the polls are over, he added.
Appearing for the Election Commission, Senior Advocate Sandeep Sethi with Advocate Sidhant Kumar, defended the order of the Single Judge and argued that in view of NP Ponnuswami, writ petition under Art 226 was not maintainable to challenge rejection of nomination papers.
After hearing the parties at length and considering Art 329(b) of the Constitution read with Section 80 and 100 (1)(c) of the Representation of People Act, 1951, the Court stated that it saw no reason to interfere with the order of the Single Judge as no error had been committed by it.
It held that the writ petition was not maintainable and Appellants had the remedy of an Election Petition. Further, the Court opined that any interference at this stage would "tantamount to interference in the progress of the election."
Moreover, the Court refused to accept allegations of arbitrariness and malafide on the ground that the same was to looked into at the stage of the Election Petition. It added that mere assertions of arbitrariness and malafide was not sufficient in a writ petition and the same ought to be supported by cogent material.
The Court also refused to accept the Appellants' contention that his plea was in fact in furtherance of the election process. In view of the above, the Court concluded that there was no substance in the appeal and the same was dismissed.