The Andhra Pradesh HC on 28th September, 2022 has recapitulate that the right to contest elections is not a fundamental right but only a statutory right. This was seen in the matter of C. Vasudeva Rao v. State of Andhra Pradesh, Writ Petition No. 8696 of 2022, the consideration was made by a single bench of Justice Cheekati Manavendranath Roy.
FACTS OF THE CASE
The petitioner in this case submits that he was an employee in the Revenue Department of Andhra Pradesh Secretariat & working as a Section Officer. It was his case that he has submitted his nomination for the post of Secretary in the elections which were going to be held for Executive Committee office bearer of the of the Andhra Pradesh Secretariat Section Officers’ Association. Although, despite his name present on the voter list, his case was that the respondent Election Officer repudiate his nomination on the ground that his name did not tally with the S.No in the voters list that was bring out.
Anguished by the determination of the Election Officer, the petitioner filed the present writ petition under Article 226 of the Constitution praying for the effluence of the writ of mandamus to declare the act of the Election Officer in repudiating the nomination of the petitioner as illegal, arbitrary & violative of Rule 22(5) of the Andhra Pradesh Cooperative Societies Conduct of Election Rules, 1964.
The respondents argued that since the respondent Association was registered under the Societies Registration Act, there already existed an effectual remedy of raising the matter before the civil court in relation to the viability of the said election, and that a writ petition in that relation, was not rectifiable. It was additionally submitted that in case of any grievance in rejecting the nomination of the petitioner, he had to file an arbitration claim in front the Registrar U/S 60 of the Andhra Pradesh Cooperative Societies Act and that he could not solicit the jurisdiction of the HC under Article 226 of the Constitution.
The petitioner, on the rather, argued that even when an effectual alternative remedy is obtainable, one can solicit the writ jurisdiction when the principles of natural justice are violated in the process of conduct of the election. The petitioner also pleaded that the right to contest election was the fundamental right of the petitioner & since the fundamental right of the petitioner was being curtailed by inappropriate rejection of his nomination, the present writ petition was rectifiable. Dependency was placed on the determination in Whirlpool Corporation v. Registrar of Trade Marks, (1998) 8 SCC.
The Court firstly clarified that it was Andhra Pradesh Societies Registration Act, 2001, which was the governing Act in this case & not the Andhra Pradesh Cooperative Societies Registration Act, 1964. In relation with the question as to even if the petitioner could invoke the extraordinary jurisdiction of the HC, dependency was placed on Sec 23 of the Andhra Pradesh Societies Registration
In connection with the situation as to whether the petitioner could solicit the extraordinary jurisdiction of the HC, reliance was placed on Sec 23 of the Andhra Pradesh Societies Registration Act, 2001 to reach its detection that in case the petitioner was aggrieved by an order of the Election Officer, he could challenge the said determination or election only by way of making an application U/S 23, before the District Court concerned, which as per Sec 2(d) of the Act, was the City Civil Court in the cities of Hyderabad & Secunderabad and the Principal Civil Court of original jurisdiction elsewhere
“Right to contest election is not a fundamental right. It is only a statutory right. Consequently, it Can’t be said that the fundamental right of the petitioner is violated and seeking enforcement of the same that the present Writ Petition is maintainable,” said the Court.
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JUDGEMENT REVIEWED BY YAKSHU JINDAL.