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Allahabad High Court stays recounting in Gram Pradhan elections, issues notice to respondents

The Allahabad High Court has stayed the order to conduct the recounting of election for the post of village head of Parauli Suhagpur, the village assembly of Etah, Aliganj and issued a notice to the respondent and sought a reply in three weeks.

A Single Bench of Justice Prakash Padia passed this order while hearing a petition filed by Manoj Devi.

The petitioner has preferred the writ petition inter-alia with the prayer to quash the order dated 05.11.2022 passed by the Up Ziladhikari (Prescribed Authority), Aliganj, District Etah in Election Petition, filed under Section 12-C of the UP Panchayat Raj Act, 1947.

By the aforesaid order a direction was given by him for recounting of the votes in respect of Village-Parauli Suhagpur, block Jaithra, Tehsil-Aliganj, District Etah.

The Court noted that,

It reveals from perusal of the record that the election was held in respect of Pradhan of Village-Parauli Suhagpur, block Jaithra, Tehsil-Aliganj, District Etah. In the said election, Manoj Devi, wife of Dinesh was elected as Pradhan. On the basis of the same, she holds the office of the Gram Pradhan and works on the aforesaid post even today.

An election petition was filed challenging the election of the petitioner by one Urmila/respondent no 3 by filing an Election Petition, Case in the court of Up Ziladhikari (Prescribed Authority), Aliganj, District Etah.

It is argued by counsel for the petitioner that during pendency of the aforesaid election petition an application under Order VII Rule 11 of the Code of Civil Procedure was filed by the petitioner in the Court of Up Ziladhikari (Prescribed Authority), Aliganj, District Etah to dismissed the election petition as not maintainable.

It is further argued that in view of law laid down by the Apex Court in the case of Saleem Bhai and others Vs State of Maharashtra and others reported in 2002 (Supp) 5 SCR 491 till the time an order is passed by the trial court on the aforesaid application no further proceedings should be initiated.

It is also argued that in the election petition allegations were made in respect of polling booth no 222 and 227.

Counsel for the petitioner said that wholly illegally in the order impugned the alleged illegality was found by the Prescribed Authority in respect of polling booth no 223 and 226.

Apart from the same, it is argued that the order impugned has been passed by him on November 5, 2022 and a direction was given to the authorities to make the recounting of votes today at 10:00 am on the basis of aforesaid it is argued that not even a considerable time has been given by him to challenge the aforesaid order before any competent forum. It is settled law that a person cannot be left to remedy less.

Counsel for the petitioner further said that it is a routine practice of the aforesaid authority to pass such kind of order only on Saturday fixing Monday for recounting of the votes.

On the other hand, it is argued by the Standing Counsel that the order passed by the Prescribed Authority is absolutely perfect and valid order and no prejudice has been caused to the petitioner in case recounting will take place.

The Court observed that the matter requires consideration.

The Court has granted three weeks’ time to the counsel for the respondents to file counter affidavit and one-week time to file Rejoinder affidavit.

“Till the next date of listing, the effect and operation of the order dated 5.11.2022 passed by the Up Ziladhikari (Prescribed Authority), Aliganj, District Etah shall remain stayed.

Awadesh Kumar, Standing Counsel for the respondent-State is directed to apprise the District Magistrate, Etah, who will apprise the authority concerned regarding the order passed today itself and also forward the copy of the order downloaded from the High Court website”, the Court ordered.

The Court has issued notice to the respondents of the fixed next date of hearing on December 12, 2022.

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