Top StoriesKerala High Court Dismisses NDA Candidates’ Petitions Challenging Rejection Of Election Nominations Lydia Suzanne Thomas22 March 2021 1:52 AMShare This – xThe Kerala High Court on Monday dismissed the petitions filed by three candidates of the National Democratic Alliance (NDA) challenging the rejection of their election nominations for the upcoming assembly elections in the state.A single bench of Justice N Nagaresh dismissed the writ petitions filed by BJP candidates N Haridas and Nivedida Subramaniam, and AIADMK candidate…Your free access to Live Law has expiredTo read the article, get a premium account.Your Subscription Supports Independent JournalismSubscription starts from ₹ 599+GST (For 6 Months)View PlansPremium account gives you:Unlimited access to Live Law Archives, Weekly/Monthly Digest, Exclusive Notifications, Comments.Reading experience of Ad Free Version, Petition Copies, Judgement/Order Copies.Subscribe NowAlready a subscriber?LoginThe Kerala High Court on Monday dismissed the petitions filed by three candidates of the National Democratic Alliance (NDA) challenging the rejection of their election nominations for the upcoming assembly elections in the state.A single bench of Justice N Nagaresh dismissed the writ petitions filed by BJP candidates N Haridas and Nivedida Subramaniam, and AIADMK candidate RM Dhanalakshmi, whose nominations to contest from Thalassery, Guravayoor and Devikulam constituencies respectively were rejected on the ground that the forms submitted by them did not have the signature of party president.The bench said that the Court cannot interfere with the decisions taken the Returning Officers of the respective constituencies to reject the nominations papers for not fulfilling the mandatory requirements.Once the election process start, the Court cannot intervene in it, said the bench in its order. Rejection or acceptance of nomination papers cannot be challenged under Article 226 of the Constitution.However, the bench observed that the Election Commission of India has plenary powers under Article 324 of the Constitution to correct any error or deficiency in the electoral process. It will be open to the ECI to look into the allegations made by the petitioners and take remedial measures, as are found necessary.The bench also expressed concerns regarding the non-uniform parameters adopted by Returning Officers of different constituencies. While underscoring that it could not examine the merits of the petitioners’ submissions, HC exhorted the EC to ensure the “purity of the electoral process is maintained”.”Having held so, this Court notes with the concern that Returning Officers in different constituencies are resorting different parameters in the matter of acceptance of nominations, scrutiny of nominations and acceptance of various forms. When some candidates get the benefits of liberal approach of the Returning Officers, some others are put to disadvantageous position affecting their statutory right under the Representation of the People Act to contest in the elections. This Court is of the opinion that taking note of the factual situations disclosed in these writ petitions, the Election Commission of India shall take necessary steps so that such differential treatment is excluded and the purity of the election process is preserved”, Justice Nagaresh observed.As regards Haridas, the Returning Officer cited the reason that the signature of the President/Secretary of BJP was absent in the ‘Form A’ submitted along with the nomination. Nivedida’s nomination for Guruvayoor was rejected saying that ‘Form B’ did not have the signature of Party President(Form A is the intimation given by the President or the Secretary of the Political Party to the Returning Officer regarding the person authorized by the Party to nominate the names of the candidates sponsored by the Party. Form B is the intimation given by the authorized person of the party regarding the candidate sponsored by the Party)Petitioners’ argumetnsSenior Advocates S Sreekumar and K Ramkumar, appearing for Haridas and Nivedida respectively, argued that the Returning Officers acted illegally by rejecting the nominations on the basis of technical defects, which were curable. It was argued that the Returning Officers acted with undue haste to reject the nominations, without affording an opportunity to the candidates to cure the defects. Contending that the absence of signature was not fatal, the candidates sought a direction to the Returning Officers to accept their nominations.According to them, the Returning Officer has discretionary powers to allow the rectification of such defects. In this regard, they argued that in constituencies like Piravom and Kondotty, the Returning Officers had given time to candidates to cure similar defect in election forms. They also argued that the bar against judicial interference was not applicable in the instant cases as the petitioners were not challenging the election process. There is power under Article 226 of the Constitution to interfere with the arbitrary orders of the Returning Officers, which have infringed the rights of the petitioners.Advocate PB Krishnan, appearing for the AIADMK candidate from Devikulam, argued that the Returning Officer has powers to allow the rectification of such defects. Similar defects were allowed to be cured in other constituencies. He argued that under Art 324C, the Election Commission could order corrections of such arbitrary exercise of powers by ROs.Election Commission opposes pleaIn a special sitting held on Sunday, the High Court had asked the ECI to give its response to the petitions today.The Election Commission of India told the Court that judicial interference in poll matters is barred after the notification of elections, as per Article 329B of the Constitution. The signature of Party President was a mandatory requirement under the Rules, and its absence is a substantive defect. Such disputes can only be resolved as per the statutory remedies after the culmination of election. Since no substitute candidates were fielded, the dismissal means that NDA will have no candidates in these constituencies for the assembly elections scheduled on April 6.Click here to read/download the judgmentSubscribe to LiveLaw, enjoy Ad free version and other unlimited features, just INR 599 Click here to Subscribe. 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"Kerala High Court Dismisses NDA Candidates’ Petitions Challenging Rejection Of Election Nominations"