'Candidates, voters should file petitions personally'

'Candidates, voters should file petitions personally'

Upholding a decision of the Karnataka High Court, a bench headed by Justice D K Jain said: “The challenge to an election is a serious matter. The object of presenting an election petition by a candidate or an elector is to ensure genuineness and to curtail vexatious litigations.’’

The bench passed the judgement while dismissing an appeal filed by G V Sreerama Reddy, a defeated CPM candidate who had challenged, through his advocate, the election of his rival Congress candidate from the Bagepalli Assembly constituency in Karnataka.

Relevant clauses
Interpreting various sub-clauses of Section 81 of the Representation of the Peoples Act, the apex court said the provisions contained in Chapter II and III, mandated that the petition should be filed personally by the candidate or the elector.
Reddy’s advocate Saran Thakur alleged that the rival candidate had resorted to large-scale irregularities during voting and recounting.

Reddy claimed that he was initially declared elected by the media officer on the day of the counting but after he left the counting centre, the authorities suddenly declared his rival Congress candidate as elected.

Reddy then filed an election petition through his advocate, but the Karnataka High Court dismissed his petition on the ground that as per rules, only the aggrieved candidate can filed an election petition.

Serious issue
Reddy later filed a Special Leave Petition in the apex court challenging the High Court’s ruling. “One can discern the reason why the petition is required to be presented by the petitioner personally. An election petition is a serious matter with a variety of consequences.

“Since such a petition may lead to the vitiation of a democratic process, any procedure provided by an election statute must be read strictly. Therefore, the legislature has provided that the petition must be presented by the petitioner himself, so that at the time of presentation, the High Court may make preliminary verification which ensures that the petition is neither frivolous nor vexatious,” the apex court said.