Election process cannot be interfered with once commenced : Kerala High Court

Once the election process is commenced, the same cannot be interfered with. The High Court bench consisting of J. C. T. Ravikumar and J. K. Haripal, dismissed a writ appeal in the matter of Sunny Cherian & Ors. v. The Electoral Officer & Ors. [W.A. No. 38/2021].

The writ petitioners/ appellants filed a writ petition mainly seeking quashment of a Government order extending the period of Board Directors of various Co-operative Societies up to January, 2021 and seeking issuance of writ of mandamus or appropriate writ commanding the respondent, Electoral Officer to remove the names of the members of the other respondent, Co-operative Society from the final voters’ list published in connection with the election to the Board of Directors. The learned judge declined to grant the interim relief sought for and hence, the present appeal was preferred.

The High Court found that the previous judgement wherein the passing of the interim order was declined was relied on the judgement of Shri Sant Sadguru Janardan Swami (Moingiri Maharaj) Sahakari Dugha Utpadak Sanstha and Anr v. State of Maharashtra and Ors. [(2001) 8 SCC 509], wherein it was stated that “virtually, holding that once the election process was commenced the same shall not be interfered with”. Further the High Court held that “We may hasten to hold that though this Court would be loathe to interfere with an election process once it is commenced there is no inflexible or invaluable position interdicting interference with an election process. The pleadings in this appeal and the writ petition would reveal that the appellants allege illegality in the matter of extension of the term of Managing Committees of Co-operative Societies beyond five years as per Ext.P5 and according to them, the third and fourth respondents got no competence to admit new members with voting right to the third respondent society during the extended period of the term”. The court found that the appellants alleged non-compliance with the statutory provisions for enrollment of members and also alleged enmasse enrollment in blatant violation of the prescribed procedures. The appellants also alleged non-consideration of objections raised by them against the preliminary voters’ list.

The High Court disposed off the appeal stating that the matter should entirely be decided in the writ petition and stated that “The conduct of the election as scheduled by itself would not defeat the case and contentions of the appellants. Certainly, depending on the fate of challenge against the competency to extend the term of Co-operative Societies as has been done under Ext.P5 the legality of enrollment effected during the extended period as also the right to cast votes by such enrolled members have to be decided”.

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