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Delhi HC dismisses plea by Akhil Bharat Hindu Mahasabha to contest assembly elections

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“There are as many as half a dozen persons who are claiming to be the President of the Akhil Bharat Hindu Mahasabha (ABHM),” observes the Delhi High Court, while dismissing the appeal preferred by Swami Chakrapani seeking a direction to the Election Commission of India (ECISVEEP) to allow the Office-Bearers of ABHM, including him, to contest Assembly elections in several States.

The Division Bench led by Chief Justice D.N. Patel and Justice Jyoti Singh was hearing an appeal by Swami Chakrapani challenging the order dated September 10, 2020, passed by the Single Judge Bench of the Delhi High Court, wherein his plea seeking recognition of the list of Office Bearers under his leadership as the National President of the ABHM was dismissed. 

The Bench, while refusing to entertain the appeal, held that for being recognized as the National President of ABHM, Swami Chakrapani ought to have filed a declaratory suit before a competent Civil Court. No relief can be granted by the Election Commission of India under Representation of People’s Act, 1951 on account of lack of such jurisdiction or power, added the Bench. 

Factual Matrix- 

According to Swami Chakrapani, he was first elected the National President of the ABHM in the year 2006. On November 11, 2010, the Election Commission of India granted recognition to the Office Bearers of ABHM under his leadership as the National President. However, on January 14, 2011,  the aforesaid recognition was withdrawn by the Election Commission. 

A round of litigation followed challenging the communication dated 14 January, 2011, wherein ultimately, a Division Bench of the Delhi High Court on March 16, 2012, upheld the communication made by the Election Commission, while observing that unless an appropriate declaration is passed by a competent Civil Court the Election Commission is not to grant any status to Swami Chakrapani.

Thereafter, a review petition was preferred by Swami Chakrapani against the order of the Division Bench, and the same was dismissed on July 13, 2012.

Aggrieved thereby, Swami Chakrapani preferred a Special Leave Petition before the Apex Court, which was again dismissed, vide order dated May 6, 2013.

On January 1, 2018, another application was moved by him before the Election Commission under Section 29A of the Representation of People’s Act, 1951, seeking recognition of the list of Office Bearers of the ABHM, under his leadership as the National President. The Election Commission, vide communication dated March 17, 2020, informed him that he must seek a declaration to the said office from a competent Civil Court in accordance with decision rendered by the Delhi Court on March 16, 2012, as also on July 13, 2012. 

A petition in the year 2020 was filed by him before the Single Judge of the Delhi High Court challenging the order of the Election Commission as regards rejecting his application for aforesaid recognition. The Bench of Justice Jayant Nath, however, dismissed the petition on the ground that Swami Chakrapani should seek a declaration towards his claim to be the President of ABHM. 

Arguments Advanced

Senior Counsel Vikas Singh, representing Swami Chakrapani, contended that his application was wrongly rejected by the Election Commission as there were no pending litigations at the time the application was moved before the Election Commission, alleging claim to the post of the President of ABHM. 

He submitted that ABHM is a registered unrecognised party, and there cannot be any such party having no President and Office-Bearers. 

Advocate Barun Kumar Sinha and Advocate Divya Upadhyay appeared on behalf of intervenors  in the matter, who also claimed to be the Presidents of ABHM.  They submitted that in view of their rival claims, no error has been committed by the Single Judge in relegating Swami Chakrapani to approach the Civil Court for a declaration.

They informed the Bench that two civil suits are already pending before different Trial Courts in the national capital, for a declaration of the effect of claim to the said office. The Court was further apprised about two criminal complaints that have a direct nexus with the disputed fact about the post of National President of ABHM.

Per contra, Advocate Sidhant Kumar, representing the Election Commission of India, submitted that the there is a dispute with regard to the post of the President of ABHM. The Election Commission has no jurisdiction and authority to decide inter-se dispute as to the rival claims of various persons claiming to be the President of ABHM, a registered unrecognized party.

Observations

The Bench observed that Swami Chakrapani cannot be registered as the National President of ABHM, as the claim by him to be the National President of ABHM is itself in dispute. “There are as many as half a dozen persons who are claiming to be President of ABHM,” stated the Bench.

The Bench noted that a similar claim was raised by him in earlier rounds of litigation, which was  dismissed on the ground that the Election Commission has no authority to decide inter-se disputes of an unrecognized political party.

The Bench further observed that a declaratory suit ought to have been filed by Swami Chakrapani keeping in view the fact that there are others claiming to be the President of ABHM. “This factual aspect ought to be decided by competent Civil Court and not by Election Commission of India,” added the Bench.

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