A Delhi High Court Bench of Justice Purushaindra Kumar Kaurav has quashed the decision of the Mayor to hold re-election for six members of the standing committee of the Municipal Corporation of Delhi and directed her to declare the result.

In that context, the Court observed that "This court has found that the actions of the Mayor/RO of engaging in the re-scrutiny of ballots when the stage of scrutiny had passed and the stage of counting of votes had been undergoing was beyond the powers that so vest with the Mayor/RO. The actions are thus found by this court to be bad in law. This court has further found that even when, the powers are so assumed to vest with the Mayor/RO and the action of rejecting the ballot, on merits is considered, the same is found to be impermissible by law".

Senior Advocate Mahesh Jethmalani, Senior Advocate Jayant Mehalong along with Advocate Shoumendu Mukherji appeared for the petitioners. ASC Udit Malik, Standing Counsel Ajay Digpaul, Senior Advocate Rahul Mehra, and Senior Advocate Raj Shekhar Rao appeared for the respondents.

In this case, BJP councilors had challenged a notice issued by the Mayor, by which the Mayor had rejected an election ballot and declared it to be invalid. The Mayor had held elections for 6 members, but a notice was issued the same day for re-election, without declaring the results. The Mayor had made the case that she had no alternative but to declare the poll as null and void since the process was vitiated due to the unruly behavior of the members.

The matter before the Court largely dealt with the rejection of ballot paper and the decision to re-poll.

On hearing the parties and analyzing the pertinent provisions of the Representation of the People Act (Conduct of Election and Election Petition) Rules, 1956, and The Delhi Municipal Corporation (Procedure & Conduct of Business) Regulations, 1958, the Court concluded that

1) The action of the Mayor of rejecting the ballot and declaring it to be invalid after the stage of scrutiny had been reached and the quota had been successfully ascertained was bad in law.

2) The decision to re-poll taken by the Mayor/RO was impermissible as the same was not based on any material relevant to the issue.

3) The decision of the Mayor/RO was in excess of powers conferred by the applicable law. The actions were without any power or authority and taken without jurisdiction.

In light of the same, the Court held that "the entire approach of the Mayor/RO is contrary to the provisions of Regulations, 1958 and the Rules, 1956. The decision taken by the Mayor/RO is nothing but a colourable exercise of power".

Cause Title: Kamaljeet Sehrawat v. Office of Lieutenant Governor of Delhi [Neutral Citation Number: 2023:DHC:3574]

Click here to read/download the Judgment