ECI not authorised to interfere with internal polls of political parties: HC

It dismisses writ petition against the unopposed election of OPS, EPS to top posts

The Election Commission of India (ECI) is not authorised under any law to interfere with the internal elections of political parties recognised by it or registered with it, or find out whether or not the office-bearers had been elected by following a democratic process, the Madras High Court held on Tuesday.

Acting Chief Justice Munishwar Nath Bhandari and Justice P.D. Audikesavalu said this while dismissing as not maintainable a writ petition filed against the election of former Chief Ministers O. Panneerselvam and Edappadi K. Palaniswami as coordinator and co-coordinator, respectively, of the AIADMK.

AIADMK member J. Jayachandran, of Arasanatti in Hosur, had filed the case with a plea to restrain the ECI from approving the unopposed election of the duo. The litigant alleged that they had amended the byelaws of the party and declared themselves elected after preventing others from filing their nominations.

The petitioner’s counsel had contended that democracy would flourish not only when the general elections are conducted freely and fairly, but also when the internal elections of a political party, whose members contest elections at various levels from panchayat to Parliament, are conducted without giving room for malpractices.

However, the first Division Bench pointed out that the writ petitioner had failed to refer to any provision in the Representation of the People Act of 1951 which obligates the ECI to approve the internal elections of a political party. Therefore, “we find that the impleadment of ECI is for the sake of it”, the judges wrote.

Though Section 29A of the 1951 Act requires every political party to get itself registered with the ECI, “there is nothing in Section 29A, too, that requires an enquiry to be conducted by the commission into the fairness and validity of the internal elections held for the posts in a political party”, the Bench added.

Further, referring to Section 29A (9), which requires registered political parties to communicate to the ECI any change in their name, head office, office-bearers, address and so on without any delay, the judge said even this provision did not confer any corresponding duty on the ECI to look into internal elections of a political party.

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