The Kerala High Court has rejected the petitions filed by three National Democratic Alliance (NDA) candidates challenging the decision of officials who rejected their nominations.
A single-judge bench of Justice N Nagaresh passed this order while hearing a petition filed by BJP candidates N. Haridas and Nivedita Subramaniam and AIADMK candidate R.M. Dhanalakshmi.
The nomination of the two BJP leaders was rejected by the Returning Officer because the signature of BJP President JP Nadda was not in the both the forms.
The Court cannot interfere with the decisions taken by the Returning Officers of the respective constituencies to reject the nominations papers for not fulfilling the mandatory requirements, the judge said.
The bench said that once the election process starts, the Court cannot intervene. “The allegations of the petitioners that Returning Officers of other constituencies had allowed rectification of such defects, if true, will mean that there was discriminatory treatment,” the Court observed.
Appearing for the Petitioners, Senior Advocates S. Sreekumar and K. Ramkumar argued that the Returning Officers in both cases acted illegally by rejecting the nominations on basis of technical defects, which were curable.
The Petitioners Advocates argued that the Returning Officers acted with undue haste to reject the nominations, without affording an opportunity to the candidates to cure the defects.
The Advocates contended that the absence of signature was not fatal, the candidates sought a direction to the Returning Officers to accept their nominations.
The Advocates also argued that the bar against judicial interference was not applicable in the instant cases as the petitioners were not challenging the election process. There is power under Article 226 of the Constitution to interfere with the arbitrary orders of the Returning Officers, which have infringed the rights of the Petitioners.
In a special sitting held on Sunday, the High Court had asked the Election Commission of India to give its response to the petitions today.
The Election Commission of India told the Court that judicial interference in poll matters is barred after the notification of elections, as per Article 329B of the Constitution. The signature of Party President was a mandatory requirement under the Rules, and its absence is a substantive defect. Such disputes can only be resolved as per the statutory remedies after the culmination of election.
The dismissal of the candidates means that NDA will have no candidates in these constituencies for the Assembly elections scheduled on April 6, when Kerala goes to the polls.