Rashid Paul

HC dismisses petition seeking refixing of polling date for Anantnag LS constituency

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Srinagar, May 21: The J&K High Court Tuesday dismissed a petition by a candidate seeking refixing of the polling date for the Anantnag parliamentary constituency for which polling concluded on 6th of this month.

The petition was filed by one Shams Khawaja, a contestant to the parliamentary seat in south Kashmir, pleading that he was not allowed to campaign in the election.

The High Court after hearing the petitioner and the counsel representing Election Commission of India (ECI) held the petition as not being maintainable and accordingly dismissed it.

The court left the petitioner free to agitate his grievance, if any, in an election petition after the elections are over.

A notification by the ECI had scheduled the elections for Anantnag constituency in three phases with polling dates for district Anantnag as 23rd of April, for district Kulgam as 29th of April, and for Shopian and Pulwama districts as 6th of May, 2019.

The petitioner was declared a contesting candidate from the Anantnag constituency after his nomination papers were found all right by the returning officer.

However, he submitted before the court that he suffered discrimination at the hands of the local official electoral apparatus at various points in the process of campaign which “sabotaged” his electioneering.

He submitted that on May 25, 2019 on the specific suggestion of the returning officer of the constituency he submitted his election campaign program for districts Shopian and Pulwama and some areas of Kulgam district.

However on April 26-27, he was informed by the Police Control Room that they are not allowing any political movement in the districts for the reasons of unrest.

Petitioner stayed at his base in Pahalgam and could not campaign in Kulgam district for the 2nd phase of polling scheduled on 29th April, 2019, said the petition.

Denial of the permission by the ECI to conduct smooth campaigning in the areas of his choice amounts to blacking out of the candidate and violation of his right guaranteed under Constitution and the laws for the whole phase of the election, he said.

The counsel representing ECI stated that the petition was not maintainable and deserved rejection at first instance.

The bench after hearing the parties held that the first proviso appended to Clause (b) of Article 329 of the Constitution of India does not affect the bar against calling in question an election to either House of the Parliament.

However, an election petition presented to such authorities and in such manner as has been provided by and under the Act of 1951 made by the Parliament, is an exception, the bench said and rejected the petition for refixing the election to the restive region of south Kashmir.

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