Bombay High Court suggests State EC to give candidates few days to correct papers

by Web Desk | Updated: 2017-02-08

The Bombay high court on Tuesday suggested to the state election commission that few days should be given to candidates filing nominations to correct mistakes in their documents. The observation was made by a division bench of Justices Naresh Patil and Makarand Karnik while hearing a slew of petitions filed by candidates whose applications for elections to the municipal corporations of Mumbai, Thane and Pune were rejected.
“If candidates are not allowed to correct curable defects in their applications, then you are excluding many people from contesting elections. It is advisable to give the candidates a day or two after the deadline for filing nominations for correcting curable defects,” said Justice Patil. “If you are going to represent people, it is a valid argument that they should apply their mind and correctly fill the forms. But at the same time the Election Commission should allow for correction of mistakes that can be rectified as per law. Don’t be lenient but prescribe procedures so that genuine and eligible candidates are not denied from participating in elections due to technical defects,” added the judge.
Ten corporations are going to the polls on February 21, including Mumbai, Thane, Ulhasnagar, Pune, Nashik and Pimpri-Chinchwad. The last day for filing nominations was February 4. Many candidates had approached court after their nomination forms were rejected for technical mistakes like missing signatures on some pages. The HC declined interim relief to the aspirants.
One case was that of Ghatkopar corporator Pratiksha Ghuge. Her nomination forms were rejected as two pages were missing from affidavits to be submitted. According to advocate Harshad Bhadbhade, counsel for Ghuge, the problem occurred as the commission’s website hung, resulting in her being unable to print two out of 10 pages of affidavits. This was relating to assets declaration and while she could take printouts detailing assets of spouse, she could not do so for her children. “It is nobody’s case that the disclosures were not submitted. It was a technical defect. The returning officer has access to the website and could have taken the printout but he did not do so,” claimed Bhadbhade. The court issued a notice to the state election commission and kept the matter for hearing next week.
Another lawyer pointed out that norms provide for the returning officer to scrutinise documents filed and allow for corrections to be made on the spot.