The petition before the High Court under Article 226 of the Constitution challenging the rejection of nomination paper by returning officer to contest village panchayat elections, would not be maintainable. This decision was taken by the Bombay High Court in the case of Karmaveer Tulshiram Autade and others vs. State Election Commission & others [Writ Petition no.26 of 2021] presided over by the bench of Hon’ble Chief Justice Dipankar Datta, Justice A.S. Gadkari & Justice G.S. Kulkarni.
In the instant case, the petitioners had approached the High Court challenging the orders passed by the returning officer of the village panchayat rejecting their nomination forms to contest elections to Bhose Village Panchayat. The State Election Commission had challenged the maintainability of the petitions. Petitioners had referred to the case of Vinod Pandurang Bharsakade vs. Returning Officer, Akot and Anr. and Sudhakar s/o. Vitthal Misal vs. State of Maharashtra & Ors. and Smt. Mayaraju Ghavghave vs. Returning Officer.
The issue which rose in front of the bench was whether the writ petitions filed under Article 226 of the Constitution would be maintainable challenging the orders of rejection of nomination forms in a village panchayat election.
There were arguments including that petitioners can’t approach HC for grievances under Article 226 because it is neither a civil right nor a fundamental right and there was an argument that returning officers reject nomination papers for absurd reasons possibly because they are ignorant of relevant laws or because of extraneous considerations and hence, the High Court must intervene and lay down situations where writ petition under Article 226 could be entertained.
High Court opined that “The legislature expresses the will of the people through legislation enacted by it. Any issue which could be dealt with by the legislature cannot be solved by judicial fiat, having regard to Article 243-O(b) of the Constitution read with the MVP Act.”
Therefore, HC took the decision that Petitions before High Courts under Article 226 of the Constitution challenging the rejection of nomination paper by returning officer to contest village panchayat elections, would not be maintainable, by the virtue of Article 243-O of the Constitution which bars interference from courts in electoral matters except in the manner provided by the law made by the State legislature.
HC Stated that “Article 243-O(b) is a bar on an entertaining petition under Article 226 challenging the rejection of nomination in village panchayat election”.