The Meghalaya High Court has rejected the writ petition filed by All India Trinamool Congress spokesman Saket S. Gokhale praying for action to be initiated against the NPP by the Election Commission of India for violation of electoral rules given in Rule 16A of the Election Symbols (Reservation and Allotment) Order, 1968.
Gokhale had filed the writ petition in the court stating that the NPP had not filed the election expenditure statements for several elections, including the Meghalaya Assembly elections of 2018.
He also told the High Court that he had written to the Election Commission of India on September 7, 2022 to take immediate action against the NPP.
Gokhale also stated that the NPP had violated the stipulation given in Rule 16A of the Election Symbols (Reservation and Allotment) Order, 1968, which mandated that the election expenditure was to be filed within a period of 75 days, after the completion of Assembly elections.
Since the Election Commission of India did not take action against the NPP, Gokhale in his writ petition prayed to the High Court to issue appropriate directions to the Election Commission.
In its order on February 3, the High Court bench of Justice Hamarsan Singh Thangkhiew dismissed the writ petition as not maintainable.
Justice Thangkhiew said that the maintainability of the writ petition is barred by Article 329(b) of the Constitution.
“Article 329 bars the interference by courts in electoral matters, and as such, will normally oust the jurisdiction of this court in any matter relating to election, by way of a writ petition under Article 226 of the Constitution, except where the assistance of the court is sought merely to correct or smoothen the progress of election proceedings, or to remove the obstacles that may stall an election process,” Justice Thangkhiew said in his order.
According to the judge, in view of the fact that the election process has already been set in motion and therefore, apart from a proceeding under the Representation of the People Act, 1951, no other forum can adjudicate in such matters.
“No special circumstances that the writ petition has been filed in aid of and in furtherance of the election process are visible or apparent in any manner as the petitioner seeks that action be taken against the respondent No. 3 (NPP) which cannot be said to subserve the election process,” the court added.
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