Interference in the process of election once the calendar of events are notified would fall foul of the law : High Court of Karnataka

The writ petitions which in effect challenge the calendar of events issued by the State Election Commission cannot be entertained at this stage as it would run counter to the prior judgments of the Hon’ble Apex Court. This was held in JEELANI V. The THE DEPUTY COMMISSIONER BIDAR & Ors and connected matters[W.P.NO.200735/2021 and connected matters] in the High Court of Karnataka by a single bench consisting of JUSTICE  M.NAGAPRASANNA.

The facts are that multiple petitions have been filed that seek to challenge the electoral process in the municipal wards of Bidar city. These writ petitions call in question certain notifications of reservation concerning ward Nos.5, 6, 26, and 32 Municipal wards of Bidar City.

The court while hearing counsels appearing for the parties, found glaring illegality in the actions of the State in varying reservations from draft notification, without there being any objections filed by any stakeholder in the final notification. But also stated that the calendar of events had already been notified by the State Election Commission.

The court discussed that Court would have to hold its hands to interfere with the process of election by relying on the judgment of the Hon’ble Apex Court in the case of  N.P.Ponnuswami vs. The Returning Officer, Namakkal Constituency, Namakkal, Salem Dist., and others, were in the court had observed that “Interference in the process of election once the calendar of events is notified would fall foul of the law.”

The court also referred to the judgment of the State of Goa and another vs. Fouziya Imtiaz Shaikh and another, wherein the following observations were made, “I. Under Article 243 ZG(b), no election to any municipality can be called in question except by an election petition presented to a Tribunal as is provided by or under any law made by the Legislature of a State. This would mean that from the date of notification of the election till the date of the declaration of result a judicial hands-off is mandated by the non-obstante clause contained in Article 243ZG debarring the writ court under Articles 226 and 227 from interfering once the election process has begun until it is over. The constitutional bar operates only during this period. It is, therefore, a matter of discretion exercisable by a writ court as to whether interference is called for when the electoral process is “imminent” i.e, the notification for elections is yet to be announced”

Considering the facts of the writ and keeping in mind the settled proposition of law on the subject. The Court held that entertaining the writ petitions at this stage on the plea of the petitioners cannot be allowed as the same would go against the precedents of the Hon’ble Apex Court and thus dismissed all petitions.

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