Manipur HC declares Naga Peoples Front's MP election null and void; BJP candidate to represent constituency
The High Court was hearing the petition filed by Bhartiya Janata Party's Haulim Shokopao Mate, who finished second in the 2019 general elections, claiming that the MP from the constituency, Lorho S Pfoze's affidavit for the poll had defects
Imphal: The High court of Manipur has declared Naga Peoples Front’s (NPF) present MP Lorho S Pfoze’s election to Lok Sabha “null and void” from Outer Manipur Lok Sabha constituency in 2019 and said that the petitioner Houlim Shokhopao Mate of the Bhartiya Janata Party (BJP) is “duly elected” from the parliamentary constituency.
The single bench of the High Court Justice MV Muralidaran was hearing the petition filed by Haulim Shokopao Mate claiming that Lorho S Pfoze’s affidavit for the poll had defects.
The court said that in view of the fact that there were eight candidates in the fray, the claim of the petitioner to declare him an elected member cannot be denied for the reason that among all the candidates contested, the petitioner secured the highest votes after the first respondent.
“Consequent upon the findings that the election of the first respondent is declared as null and void, the petitioner is entitled to be declared as an elected member of 2-Outer Manipur (ST) Parliamentary Constituency in the General Election to 17th Lok Sabha, 2019,” the court said.
Pfoze got 3,63,527 votes and Haulim Shokopao Mate got 2,89,745 votes in the said election.
“The learned counsel for the petitioner submitted that consequent upon the declaration of the election of the first respondent is void and the votes numbering 363527 received by the first respondent will become invalid votes and since the petitioner received a majority of valid votes numbering 289745, this Court could declare the petitioner as elected,” the court added.
“In the result, the Election Petition is allowed, setting aside the election of the first respondent as Member of 275-Madakasira Legislative Assembly Constituency in the General Elections held in the month of May 2014 and declaring the petitioner as duly elected Member of 275-Madakasira Legislative Assembly Constituency. Both the parties are directed to bear their own costs,” the court observed.
As per the Court’s order, the petition was by the petitioner under Section 100(1)(d)(i) and (iv) and under Section 100(1)(b) of the Representation of People Act, 1951 (for short, “the RP Act”) to declare that the election of the first respondent from 2-Outer Manipur (ST) Parliamentary Constituency to the 17th Lok Sabha, 2019 as “null and void” and to declare that the petitioner as the duly elected Member.
“It is pertinent to point out that the provision of RP Act provides for filing of maximum of four nomination papers, but as per Section 33A of the RP Act read with Rule 4A, the candidate is required to file a duly sworn affidavit under Form 26 along with the nomination papers containing true and correct facts along with complete information, which cannot be different,” the court added.
The petitioner said that on 26 March 2019, during scrutiny, the Returning Officer abruptly and improperly accepted the nomination paper of the first respondent. According to the petitioner, there was no proper scrutiny as envisaged under Section 36(2) of the RP Act.
The case of the petitioner is that the first respondent has not complied with the prescribed format of Form 26, left certain columns blank, did not disclose the movable and immovable assets of himself, his spouse and his dependents and made false statements on oath and have concealed material facts in Form 26, which has materially affected the election of the petitioner.
According to the petitioner, the returning officer ought to have rejected the nomination paper of the first respondent under Section 36(2) of the RP Act, as withholding of important information, including his non-agricultural land and non-disclosure of contract details entered by the private company in which the first respondent has shared and furnishing various false information, are defects of substantive nature.
It is the case of the first respondent that three nomination papers along with affidavits were submitted on various dates. Since typographical mistakes were detected in the first two nomination papers and affidavits, the third nomination paper and the affidavit in Form 26 dated 25 March 2019, were filed and the said nomination paper along with the said affidavit was alone accepted by the Returning Officer at the time of scrutiny.