Panna district collector acted as ruling BJP’s polling agent in Madhya Pradesh panchayat elections, observes High Court

The observation came while the court was hearing an election petition of a candidate.

August 03, 2022 11:13 pm | Updated August 04, 2022 08:23 pm IST - RAIPUR

Sanjay Kumar Mishra, Collector, Panna District, Madhya Pardesh. Photo:

Sanjay Kumar Mishra, Collector, Panna District, Madhya Pardesh. Photo:

The Madhya Pradesh High Court on Wednesday, pulled up Panna district collector Sanjay Kumar Mishra for failing to do his duty during the panchayat elections and said that Mr. Mishra “acted as a political agent of the Ruling Party”.

The court further observed that the bureaucrat did not act independently, and Election Commission should have removed him from the post of District Returning Officer. A video of the court proceedings was also shared on social media in which the judge, Justice Vivek Agrawal, is heard saying, “He has no regard for the principle of natural justice and should be removed from the post of collector”.

Did not lose

The observation came while the court was hearing an election petition filed by Mr. Parmanand Sharma, who had contested for the post of vice-president in Panna Janpad panchayat elections but “lost” following a controversial decision.

“In the indirect elections, Mr. Parmanand Sharma had received 13 out of 25 votes, as against 12 that fell in his opponent Mr. Ram Shiromani’s favour. Mr. Sharma was handed over the winner’s certificate on July 27,” said Mr. Quazi Fakhruddin, a counsel for Mr. Sharma.

However, challenging this, Mr. Shiromani allegedly approached Panna district collector Sanjay Kumar Mishra. “The collector first declared Mr. Sharma’s election null and void and conducted a draw of lots to declare Mr. Shiromani, who had secured fewer votes, the winner. Through his petition, Mr. Sharma contested his method of declaring winner,” added Mr. Fakhruddin. Mr. Sharma was represented by Mr. Fakhruddin and senior counsel.

“Let notice be issued to the Collector to explain his conduct and also explain as to why a recommendation be not made to not hand over any sensitive matter like dealing with election petitions or conduct of elections in future and this recommendation be not forwarded to all the Constitutional Authorities like Election Commission of India or bodies like State Election Commission,” the court order, issued by Justice Agrawal, says.

All through the elections that were contested over June and July and the process of indirect elections in certain bodies that followed, the Congress has been accusing the administration of working in connivance with the ruling party in the State, the BJP. Such allegations had been made by some within the BJP’s own ranks. Mr. Narayan Tripathi, a four-time MLA from Maihar in Satna, said, that while touring parts of his own constituency, he came across many officials cutting across ranks “campaigning for a particular party”.

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