The Supreme Court Tuesday dismissed the appeal of sacked BSF Jawan Tej Bahadur against the rejection of his nomination papers to contest the 2019 Lok Sabha polls from Varanasi and seeking to declare the election of Prime Minister Narendra Modi from that constituency as void.
A bench headed by Chief Justice S A Bobde said there is “no merit in the appeal” and the court does not consider it necessary to issue notice to Modi who was elected from Varanasi constituency.
Bahadur’s election petition before the Allahabad High Court was “rightly nipped in the bud”, it said.
The apex court delivered its verdict on Bahadur’s appeal against the December 6 last year order of high court which had dismissed his election petition on the ground that he had no locus to challenge the election of Modi from Varanasi as Bahadur was neither an elector for such constituency nor was he a candidate.
“We find that the averments in the petition do not disclose that the appellant (Bahadur) has a cause of action which invest him with right to sue. It is settled that where a person has no interest at all, or no sufficient interest to support a legal claim or action he will have no locus standi to sue. The entitlement to sue or locus standi is an integral part of cause of action,” said the bench, also comprising Justices A S Bopanna and V Ramasubramanian.
“We are, therefore, of the view that the present election petition has been rightly nipped in the bud. The civil appeal is, therefore, dismissed,” the top court said in its 13-page verdict.
On May 1 last year, the Returning Officer had rejected the nomination papers of Bahadur, a Samajwadi Party (SP) candidate, who was dismissed from the Border Security Force (BSF) in April 2017 after he posted a video online complaining about the quality of food served to the troops.
In his election petition before the high court, the sacked jawan had sought to declare Modi’s election to be void on the ground that his (Bahadur) nomination was improperly rejected and the election was vitiated on account of alleged misuse of official power by the Returning Officer and the Election Observer
The apex court verdict noted that Bahadur had filed two nominations, one on April 24, 2019 and another on April 29 last year and the nominations were found to be invalid by the Returning Officer because they were not accompanied by a certificate to the effect that he has not been dismissed for corruption or disloyalty to the state as required under the Representation of the People Act.
It noted that nomination paper contains a query whether the candidate was dismissed for corruption or for disloyalty while holding office under the Government of India or government of any state.
It noted that the returning officer had issued two notices to Bahadur on April 30 last year referring that the nomination form was not accompanied by requisite certificate.
He was given time up to 11 AM on May 1 last year to furnish the certificate from the Election Commission, the bench noted, adding that the returning officer rejected his nomination papers on the ground that it was not accompanied by requisite certificate.
“The averment contained in the appeal memo refers to the sequence wherein the appellant (Bahadur) is stated to have made an attempt through his authorised representative to secure the certificate from the office of the Election Commission of India but there is no averment to the effect that such certificate had been secured,” it said.
“If that be the position, it is clear that the appellant neither possessed the required certificate on the date of the filing the nomination, at the time of scrutiny, on the next day but one following the date fixed for scrutiny or even at the time of the filing the Election Petition,” it said.
Referring to section 81 of the Representation of the People Act, the apex court said it provides that an election petition may be presented by any elector or any candidate at such election.
“In this case the election is to the Varanasi Parliamentary seat. Obviously, the appellant (Bahadur) is not an elector registered in the Varanasi constituency since he is admittedly enrolled as an elector of Bhiwani, Mahendragarh Parliamentary Constituency, Haryana. His locus thus depends entirely on the question whether he is a candidate or can claim to be a duly nominated candidate,” it said.
“The question that arises is whether the appellant (Bahadur) can claim to have been a duly nominated candidate at the said election. The answer must be in the negative,” it said.
It said requirement of section 33(3) of the Act that a nomination of a dismissed officer must be accompanied by a certificate that he was not dismissed on the ground of corruption or disloyalty to the state “must be read as obligatory”.
“We are of the view that the mandate of the law that such a person shall not be deemed to be duly nominated must be given full effect and no person must be considered as entitled to claim that he has been duly nominated even though he does not comply with the requirement of law,” the bench said.
“We, therefore, see no merit in the appeal and do not consider it necessary to issue notice to the respondent (Modi). The appeal does not raise any arguable question of fact or law and admitting the appeal would amount to an exercise in futility for the court to do so,” the bench said.