The Punjab and Haryana high court on Friday quashed a criminal complaint and consequential proceedings against Punjab local bodies minister Anil Joshi and his family members in an alleged dual- vote case.
The high court bench of justice Kuldip Singh stated in its order that the complaint along with documents attached with the same did not disclose any offence under the Representation of People’s Act-1950 and was nothing “but misuse of the process of court.” The Act provides for punishment in case of making false declaration, which is either known or believed to be false of an electoral roll or any entry in or from any electoral roll.
The judgment came on the petition of Joshi and his family members, who had challenged the criminal complaint and summoning order by Amritsar chief judicial magistrate in February 2014. The complaint was filed by the election department against Joshi and his family members saying they were enrolled as voter twice in Amritsar in 2007-08 and were guilty of offences under Sections 17 and 31 of the Act.
The Section 17 of the Act says no person shall be entitled to register in the electoral roll for more than one constituency. However, violation of the said section was not a criminal offence.
The high court questioned as to how for the offences committed between year 2006-2008, the complaint was filed in February 2014 much beyond the period of limitation of one year. Also HC also questioned lower court order of summoning the accused persons without opportunity of hearing.
The high court also noted that the initial compliant came from two persons Sandeep Gorsi and Vaneet Mahajan who had challenged Anil Joshi’s election on similar allegations. The petition was dismissed by a division bench in 2015. “It (division bench order) goes on to show that the said two applicants have their own axe to grind and want to settle some score with one of the respondents, namely, Anil Joshi, who was elected as a member of legislative assembly from Amritsar north assembly constituency,” the high court bench recorded in the order.
The order also says it was not clear as to who got the names of all said voters entered into the Tarn Taran constituency in 2005 and for the subsequent entries in Amritsar west and Amritsar north, no record was attached with the complaint to show as to who got the enrolment made and who made the declaration.