Punjab EC directs DC’s to decide writ petitions on Panchayat elections

CHANDIGARH; The State Election Commission, Punjab has directed all the District Electoral Officers-cum-Deputy Commissioners in the State to conduct summary enquiries and decide upon the issues raised in the representations / civil writ petitions by the petitioners related to various Gram Panchayat elections.

Disclosing this a spokesman of the State Election Commission said Friday that the Hon’ble Punjab and Haryana High Court in CWP No.8448 of 2008 and other connected Civil Writ Petitions has directed that the petitioner(s) to approach the State Election Commission, Punjab who would decide the matter by 24th May, 2008. The question raised in the writ petition was whether the nomination papers of the petitioners have been validly entertained or rejected or otherwise and other issues related to Gram Panchayat elections.
He added that the decisions taken by the Returning Officer under section 41 of the Punjab State Election Commission Act, 1994 at the time of filing or scrutiny of nomination papers have been disputed. It is relevant that the record is also available with the field officers spread all over Punjab . There are number of writ petitions of a similar nature in respect of places all over the State.
The directions by the High Court for deciding the matter by 24th May, 2008 would be very difficult to implement, if all the relevant records were summoned by the State Election Commission because these officers are currently engaged in the conduct of Gram Panchayat elections scheduled to be held on 26th May, 2008 and therefore, summoning them to the State Election Commission with the relevant record and ensuring their presence at State headquarters would definitely adversely impact the conduct of panchayat elections.
Adding further he said that as the Deputy Commissioners and the Additional Deputy Commissioners (Development) are concurrently District Electoral Officers and the Additional District Electoral Officers respectively It would be appropriate and feasible for the District Electoral Officers to summon the relevant record from the Returning Officers and conduct a summary enquiry and decide upon the issues raised in the representations/ civil writ petitions by the petitioners. He said that it would be open for the District Electoral Officers to obtain report from the Additional District Electoral Officer or Additional Deputy Commissioner (General), or Sub Divisional Magistrate-cum-Sub Divisional Electoral Officer or Tehsildar-cum-Additional Sub Divisional Electoral Officers. After perusal of the record the District Electoral Officer would decide the matter.
He added that since the District Electoral Officers would be very busy with the conduct of Gram Panchayat elections scheduled for 26.05.2008 and the number of writ petitions of this nature may be large in a district, therefore, it would be permissible for them to direct the Additional Deputy Commissioner (Dev.) or the Additional Deputy Commissioner (Gen.) to enquire into the matter as mentioned above and decide on the lines indicated above.
He said that the Commission exercising the powers vested under section 3 of the Punjab State Election Commission Act, 1994 and Article 243k and 243N of Constitution of India, has directed that in case the District Electoral Officer or the Officer so nominated by him concludes that the purity and sanctity of the election process has been vitiated or violated, he would have the authority to countermand the poll. The State Election Commission would accord ex-part-facto approval since the paucity of time and the imperative of implementation of the decision of the High Court, did not permit that all such cases to be decided by the Commission directly. This order issues in exercise of the powers vested with the State Election Commission under section 3 of the Punjab State Election Commission Act, 1994 and Article 243k and 243N of Constitution of India.
Punjab Newsline Network
Friday, 23 May 2008

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