Even as the Election Commission on Tuesday asked Haryana chief electoral officer to conduct a preliminary inquiry and send a report regarding the allegations of electoral malpractices during the recent Rajya Sabha polls, there is very little the EC can do in the matter.
Article 329 of the Constitution clearly lays down that no election to either House of Parliament or either House of the state legislature shall be called into question except by an election petition presented to such authority and in such manner as may be provided for by or under any law made by the appropriate legislature. Further, Section 80 of the Representation of People Act states that “No election shall be called in question except by an election petition presented in accordance with the provisions of this part.”
The Act further states that the court having jurisdiction to try an election petition shall be the high court. The law also mentions the manner of presenting the petition, contents of the petition, relief sought by the petitioner and trial of election petitions.
The Congress and the Indian National Lok Dal (INLD) had on Monday separately represented the EC to lodge a complaint regarding the alleged change of the official EC pen which led to the rejection of 12 votes and a loss for INLD and Congress backed candidate, RK Anand.
The EC on Tuesday promptly asked the Haryana chief electoral officer, who is an EC appointee to send a report in this regard. “The commission has forwarded a complaint made by RK Anand and state Congress president Ashok Tanwar. I have been asked to send a report after conducting a preliminary inquiry,’’ said Haryana chief electoral officer, Vijay Dahiya. Dahiya on Tuesday interacted with Haryana assembly secretariat officials and saw the videos of the RS polling.
The election commission itself says that once the polls are completed and results declared, the commission cannot review any result on its own. This can only be reviewed through the process of an election petition which can be filed before the high court in respect of elections to the Parliament and state legislatures.”
The Representation of People Act also bar the jurisdiction of civil courts to question the legality of any action taken or of any decision given by the returning officer or by any other person appointed under the Act in connection with an election. While the Constitution has given the EC advisory jurisdiction and quasi judicial powers, it is for the matter of post-election disqualification of sitting members of the Parliament and state legislatures.
The commission is often asked by the high court and Supreme Court to give opinion on the question of disqualification.