Presidential election disputes to be decided by Supreme Court: Delhi HC

The grievance of the petitioner was that the authorities were not taking any effective steps to disqualify imprisoned lawmakers from the electoral college for electing the President and Vice President of India.

Presidential election disputes to be decided by Supreme Court: Delhi HC
Andrabi and Fehmeeda have moved the Delhi High Court challenging an order by the Patiala House court dismissing their appeal against the seizure of their house and car, respectively.(File/IE)

All doubts and disputes arising from the election of the President or Vice President can only be inquired and decided by the Supreme Court, the Delhi High Court has said.

Justice Sanjeev Narula, while dealing with a petition which sought to restrain legislators imprisoned in criminal cases from casting their vote in the recent Presidential election, said the plea was not maintainable as per the Constitution and the Presidential and Vice Presidential Elections Act which confer exclusive jurisdiction on the Supreme Court to hear such matters.

The judge dismissed the writ petition by a 70-year-old carpenter, who claimed to have unsuccessfully filed his nomination papers for the post of the President.

The court also said that the remedy in relation to a Presidential election was in the form of an “election petition”, and not a writ petition, after declaration of the result. The primary grievance of the petitioner was that the authorities were not taking any effective steps to remove or disqualify imprisoned lawmakers from the electoral college for electing the President of India and Vice President of India.

“Article 71(1) (of the Constitution) categorically provides that all doubts and disputes arising out of, or in connection with the election of the President or Vice President, shall be inquired and decided by the Supreme Court, and thus, since the above-extracted relief is qua the electoral college for the Presidential election, the same cannot be entertained by this court,” the court said in its order.

“The present writ petition is also not maintainable for the reason that the only remedy in relation to a Presidential election, can be by way of an election petition after declaration of the result. Section 14(2) of the 1952 Act (the Presidential and Vice Presidential Elections Act) also confers exclusive jurisdiction on the Supreme Court to hear such matters,” it added.

The court also said that the petitioner did not state even a single instance where an imprisoned lawmaker was permitted to vote or act as a Member of Parliament or State Legislature or made a party to his petition.

The court said the “half-baked petition” cannot be entertained and remarked that the “timing of the petition on the eve of the Presidential election, and not before, makes the intention of the petition “highly suspect”.

The petition was heard and dismissed by the court on the day of the Presidential polls i.e July 18 after hearing the petitioner, who appeared in person, and the lawyers appearing for the Election Commission and Centre.

The court had then said that it would release a detailed order on the petition later.

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