—
OffStumped For All Things Right of Center, Bringing a Right of Centre Reality Check to Indian Politics, News Media Reporting and Opinion now in Hindi अब आप के लिये हिंदी मे.
—   

The election commission defines the process for correction of names in electoral rolls in the Electoral Registration Officer Handbook http://www.eci.gov.in/ElectoralLaws/HandBooks/ERO_HANDBOOK.pdf.

The process requires propery enquiry and verification so that the Officer can satisfy himself that the correction is justified. The process requires a 7 day public notice period for inviting any objections after which the enquiry is required to be conducted. It is hard to believe any of this has been done to fix Pratibha Patil’s defective electoral roll.

The handbook on page 56 also deals with the particular situation at hand where the nomination paper of a person was accepted despite an error in the electoral roll. The handbook requires that all corrections should be done

before the date of issue of notification for the election is issued. Any changes made upto the date of filing nominations should be intimated as soon as they are made through a certificate to the Returning Officer. The Handbook does not provide for changes after the filing of Nominations. This is key and could be grounds for rejection.

As many as 33 new nominations were filed on the last date for filing nominations for the Presidential election. With this total number of nominations stood at an all time high of 84. The Congress which has been facing heat on account of the UPA-Left candidate Pratibha Patil while rejecting the BJP’s call to withdraw her candidature actually went ahead and filed 2 additional sets of nominations. The UNI reports that about 37 nomination papers were rejected for lack of supporting documents. With this the stage is set for a potential straight fight between Vice President Bhairon Singh Shekhawat and Pratibha Patil.

With July 2nd set as the date for the next stage in the Presidential election process when the nomination papers will be scrutinized, Offstumped has uncovered some unexpected details that could be a potential grounds for rejection of Pratibha Patil’s nomination.

First a backgrounder on the requirements for filing a nomination for the Presidential Election. According to the Updated Presidential election Act

Each nomination paper shall be accompanied by a certified copy of the entry relating to the candidate in the electoral roll for the parliamentary constituency in which the candidate is registered as an elector.

 The Presidential Nomination form has an explicit line item where the proposers need to confirm that the certified copy is attached.

Now here come’s the shocker. Pratibha Patil is registered as a voter in Amravati District of Maharashtra. More specifically in LAC 124 Congress Nagar, under Milk Dairy Time Office Congress Nagar, Kholi 1 according to The Chief Electoral Officer, Maharashtra Elector’s Help Line. Offstumped accessed the electoral roll entry Part 161, Sr No 223 related to Pratibha Patil and Sr No 220 to the rest of the residents in that address which includes her husband and other relatives. Look what Offstumped found.

The electoral entry for DeviSingh Shekhawat reads correctly as DeviSingh Shekhawat.

But the electoral entry for Pratibha Patil reads Patil Pratibha Dechisingh with Husband’s name listed as Patil Dechisingh.

The rules for scrutiny within the Updated Presidential election Act are interesting.

They say that the representatives of all candidates will have the opportunity to examine all nominations. After which the returning officer will scrutinize the nominations to examine the validity of any objections raised by any of the representatives or any objections of his own judgement. The rules also say that the grounds for rejection could be that there has been a failure to comply with any of the provisions of sections 5B or 5C. Section 5B is where the requirement for electoral rolls is mentioned.

The rules also have an interesting rider

The Returning Officer shall not reject any nomination paper on the grounds of any defect not of a substantial nature

But the rules also once again emphasize the importance of the electoral roll saying

For the purposes of this section, a certified copy of an entry in the electoral roll for the time being in force shall be conclusive evidence of the fact that the person referred to in that entry is an elector for that constituency, unless it is proved that he is subject to any of the disqualifications mentioned in section 16 of the Representation of the People Act, 1950

So there you have it folks potential grounds to raise an objection on Pratibha Patil’s nomination on the basis of the electoral rolls. Now the act provides the candidate one day’s time to rebut after which the Returning Officer will be empowered to make a decision.  The act also provides for a challenge in the Supreme Court via a petition. The rules specify that the Supreme Court may declare the election to be void if the nomination of any candidate has been wrongly accepted or wrongly rejected.

Offstumped Poser: Assuming the electoral rolls from the Maharashtra CEO’s help line are accurate there are potential grounds here to challenge Pratibha Patil’s nomination. A lot depends on how the Returning Officer interprets the electoral roll requirements as opposed to the “defect not of substantial nature” stipulation. A spelling mistake in the name could be treated as not of substantial nature but when the other key determining factor – husband’s name is not just wrongly mis-spelled as Dechisingh but is wrongly identified as Patil instead of Shekhawat it just opens up a Pandora’s box of potential objections.

Whether the BJP or any of the other candidates goes that far to make this an issue on Monday remains to be seen ?

Be Sociable, Share!