The Allahabad High Court has sought the response of Election Commission on a plea by Shraddha Tripathi challenging the constitutional validity of Paras-10, 10A and 10-B of the Symbol Order 1968 on several counts interalia that said Paras are in conflict with the provisions of Rule-10 of the Conduct of Election Rules, 1961.
A bench headed by the Chief Justice Govind Mathur and Justice Ramesh Sinha, has directed the Election Commission of India to file the Counter Affidavit within a period of six weeks.
The matter listed for further hearing on 17th February, 2021.
The Petitioner submitted before the Court that as per Rule 10 (4) of the Rules of 1961 an election of parliamentary or assembly constituency where the poll becomes necessary the Returning Officer shall consider the choice of symbols expressed by the contesting candidates in their nomination papers and it shall subject to any general or special direction issued in this behalf by the Election Commission;
(a) allot a different symbol to each contesting candidate in conformity, as far as practicable, with his choice; and
(B) if more contesting candidates than one have indicated their preference for the same symbol decide by lot to which of such candidates the symbol will be allotted.
It is further asserted that the election symbols are not being allotted by the Returning Officer but the Commission itself and that is not inconsonance to the provisions of Rule 10 (4) of the Rules, 1961.
“It is also brought to our notice that the term “Returning Officer” is defined under section 21 of the Representation of Peoples Act, 1951 and according to that the Returning Officer is a person designated or nominated by the Election Commission but not the Election Commission itself,” noted by the Court in its order.
It is further submitted that as per Sub Rule-6 of Rule- 10 of the Rules, 1961, every candidate or his election agent shall forthwith be informed of the symbol allotted to the candidate and be supplied with the specimen thereof by the Returning Officer.
According to the petitioner thrust of Sub-Rule-6 of the Rules aforesaid is that an election symbol is required to be disclosed at first instance by the Returning Officer to the contesting candidate or his election agent and not prior to that but under para-17 of the Order of 1968, the Commission has published the same prior to the date of allotment of symbols to the contesting candidate or its agent.
According to The Election Symbols (Reservation and Allotment) Order, 1968.
Section 17- Notification containing lists of political parties and symbols.—
(1) The Commission shall be one or more notifications in the Gazette of India publish lists specifying—
(a) the National parties and the symbols respectively reserved for them;
(b) the State parties, the State or States in which they are State parties and the symbols respectively reserved for them in such State or States;
(c) the unrecognised political parties and the addresses of their headquarters registered with the Commission;]
[(d) the free symbols for each State and Union territory.]
(2) Every such list shall, as far as possible, be kept up-to-date.
Order attached here;WPILL-26259-2020