Mariadas restored as Bapatla civic chief

J. Venkatesan

Any dispute to polls should be challenged by an election petition and not by a writ petition: Apex court

New Delhi: The Supreme Court has set aside a judgment of the Andhra Pradesh High Court quashing the election of Kurapati Mariadas as Chairman of Bapatla Municipality.

A Bench of Justice Tarun Chatterjee and Justice V.S. Sirpurkar allowed an appeal filed by Mr. Mariadas against the High Court judgment and restored him as Chairman of the Bapatla Municipality.

The Bench held that any dispute to the elections should be challenged only by way of an election petition and not by a writ petition. Further any challenge questioning the caste certificate should be done as per the procedure laid down in the Andhra Pradesh (SCs, STs and BCs) Regulation of Issue of Community Certificate Act, 1993. Mr. Mariadas was elected as Municipal councillor in the Bapatla Municipal Council and as the Council chairman in September 2005 under the Scheduled Caste seat.

The Ambedkar Seva Samajam, Bapatla challenged his election contending that Mr. Mariadas had converted himself as a Christian and he would not come under the SC category.

A single judge of the High Court set aside the election in December 2006 and a Division Bench confirmed the single judge’s order in 2007. Mr. Mariadas filed the present appeal against this judgment contending that election dispute could be settled only through an election petition and not by a writ petition.

Earlier judgment

Allowing the appeal, the Bench quoting an earlier judgment said that election in local bodies could not be called in question except by an election petition.

It said “the shortcut of filing a writ petition and invoking constitutional jurisdiction of the High Court under Article 226/227 was not permissible and the only remedy available to challenge the election was by raising the election dispute.

The Bench said that in this case at the most the petitioner could have asked for a direction for deciding the application for probe in to the caste certificate and that was not done.

“In our opinion, it is necessary to get examined the caste certificates of all the elected persons from reserved constituencies within a time frame to avoid such controversies.”

The Bench said the High Court had clearly erred in entertaining the writ petition and secondly going into the disputed question of fact regarding the caste status and thirdly in holding that the appellant did not belong to the SC and fourthly in allowing the writ petition.

The Bench set aside the judgments of the single judge and the Division Bench and dismissed the writ petition.

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