Gujarat HC cancels election of BJP MLA

Gujarat HC cancels election of BJP MLA

Gujarat High Court. File photo

In a blow to the BJP, the Gujarat High Court on Friday set-aside the election of party's MLA Pabubha Manek while deciding a petition moved by Congress leader who was the runner up in the 2017 state assembly polls from Dwarka seat. The court, while refusing to grant a stay on his order, directed the judgment to be served to the election commission and speaker of state assembly within the time limit.

Manek had won from Dwarka seat in the 2017 assembly polls for a record seventh time defeating Congress's Markhibhai M Ahir. Following the results, Ahir filed an election petition in the high court challenging the result on the ground that Manek's nomination was defective since number and name of the constituency were not shown in his nomination form. Ahir told high court that instead of these two mandatory information, the name of proposer was mentioned in the form. Ahir had given his objection in writing to the returning officer who refused to take any action.

Justice Paresh Upadhyay pronounced the judgment while holding that nomination of BJP MLA Manek was indeed "defective" and the defect was "'defect of substantial character' as contemplated under the provisions of the Representation of the People Act, 1951, and the said nomination of the respondent No.1 (Manek) was required to be rejected by the Returning Officer of ‘Dwarka Constituency’ and that, the action of the Returning Officer of Dwarka Constituency’ of rejecting the objections filed by the petitioner, against the nomination of the respondent No.1 and accepting the said nomination of the respondent No.1 was illegal."  Justice Upadhyay, however, refused to declare Ahir winner.

The petitioner Ahir secured 67,692 votes while the winner BJP MLA Manek received 73,431 votes. Justice Upadhyay has noted in the order "The above figures would show that the wish of the people is either with the respondent No.1 or with the party, which set up him a candidate. Under either of the circumstances, it would be against the wish of the people, to declare the petitioner as the returned candidate, in the election in question."

There are at least 20 election petitions in the high court challenging the victory of BJP MLAs including the education minister Bhupendrasinh Chudasama. In most of the cases, the winning margin is less than 5000 votes. There are allegations of malpractices and biased against the returning officers during counting. The BJP had narrowly escaped the defeat by winning 99 seats out of 182. The Congress had secured 77 seats.