04 May 2121

A candidate elected unopposed is not required to campaign for contesting the election and, as such, does not incur election expenses – Bombay High Court

Case : Rohini Balasaheb Lawande v. The Additional Commissioner, Nashik Division, Nashik and Other Writ Petition No. 3639 of 2020

Court : Bombay High Court

Bench : Justice S. V. Gangapurwala and Justice Sunil P. Deshmukh

Decided on : 04 May 2121

The Relevant Statutes

Section 14B(1) of Maharashtra Village Panchayat Act, 1959

Brief Facts and Procedural History

1. In these said a group of petitions viz; Writ Petition No.3639 of 2020 & others, order of the State Election Commission dated 7th February 1995 was referred under which a candidate was supposed to maintain an abstract of accounts of expenditure including the amount spent on the items specified in proforma in Annexure 1 as election expenses which contain thirty-one heads, inter alia, cost of the nomination form, expenditure on the security deposit, purchase of copies of electoral rolls, etc.

2. The information according to Annexure 1 was required to be submitted by a candidate within thirty days of declaration of the election result with the election officer, to be accompanied by an affidavit on oath.

3. The candidate was also required to maintain day to day accounts of expenditure and submit the same to returning officer on the following day by 2.00 p.m.

The Issues of the Case

Whether a candidate elected unopposed is required to tender account of election expenses?

Whether proper and just reasons have been given by the candidate for failure to tender an account of the election expenses?

The Observations of the Court

1. It has been considered by the learned judge that in Laxmibai vs. The Collector, Nanded and Others the Supreme Court in its decision dated 14th February 2020 had concluded that Section 14B of the Maharashtra Village Panchayat Act gives discretion to the District Collector whether proper and just reasons have been given by the candidate for failure to tender account of election expenses.

2. It has further been found by the learned judge in Abhishek Vinod Patil vs. The Divisional Commissioner and Another, Writ Petition No. 11477 of 2018, a division bench at Aurangabad on 27th February 2020 had considered that delay of two months in tendering election accounts entails disqualification.

The Decision held by the Court

1. The Honourable Bombay High Court deemed it appropriate to affirmatively regard the question posed. The question referred to above is answered accordingly. The answer, however, does not purport to affect in any way and/or to do away with the exercise of power, discretion with the authorities under the provisions referred to.

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