Ordering re-poll during pendency of an enquiry before Deputy Commissioner, is not ultra vires of J&K Panchayati Raj Act

Jammu & Kashmir High Court: A Single Judge Bench of Dhiraj Singh Thakur, J., dismissed a writ petition filed against the order of the Deputy Chief Electoral Officer, whereby re-poll had been ordered for the post of a Sarpanch in the Panchayat Halqa Upper Sanai, Block Surankote.

The main issue that arose before the Court was whether the Deputy Chief Electoral Officer was justified in ordering re-poll while the matter was pending for enquiry before the Deputy Commissioner.

The Court observed that the difference of a number of votes between the candidates was 13 and the total number of missing votes was 25. The enquiry as given under Rule 37 of the Rules framed under the J&K Panchayati Raj Act, is limited to the extent of determining whether the votes had been lost or destroyed. In the instant case, it was alleged that 25 votes had gone missing after some persons entered the polling booth, who were related to one of the people contesting elections. This vitiated the sanctity of the election and hence a re-polling was suggested and subsequently ordered.

The Court held that the report about 25 votes gone missing was clear and unambiguous and hence the order of re-polling does not violate the provisions of the J&K Panchayati Raj Act. The Court held that the manner of arriving at the decision for ordering re-poll does not suffer from any illegality or perversity. Resultantly, the petition was dismissed.[Abdul Karim v. State of J&K, 2018 SCC OnLine J&K 864, order dated 26-11-2018]

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