Party symbols on MCD ballots illegal? HC seeks responses

New Delhi, July 20 (IANS) The Delhi High Court on Wednesday sought responses from the Centre, the state election commission and the Delhi government on a plea for removal of party symbols of candidates from ballot papers in municipal corporation polls in the city.

A division bench of Chief Justice G. Rohini and Justice Sangita Dhingra Sehgal issued notices and asked the respondents to file replies within six weeks.

The matter was then posted for September 28.

The plea filed by law student Sanjana Gahlot sought directions for inclusion of photographs of contesting candidates on ballot papers.

The plea said there is no provision in Part IX-A of the Constitution of India or the Municipal Corporation of Delhi (MCD) Act for political parties or their election symbols to be mentioned on the ballot papers.

“The presence of a party symbol on the ballot paper is arbitrary, illegal, unconstitutional and violative of Article 14 of the Constitution. The respondents, in particular State Election Commission (SEC), have failed to conduct free and fair election (by-elections 2016 for filling casual vacancies in councillorship),” said the plea filed through lawyer Hargyan Gahlot.

“The SEC is duty-bound to conduct free and fair elections and this duty is of public nature,” said the plea, adding that the state poll panel “simply copied the same format and design as was used by the Election Commission of India for elections to the Lok Sabha and state assemblies.”

The petitioner said that the MCD Act nowhere had reference to a recognised political party or to allocation of symbols for contesting an election. The act vests the conduct of the elections absolutely in the SEC, the petitioner said.

The plea asked for the removal of election symbols of candidates from the ballot papers and pleaded for only three columns — for serial number, candidate name and his/her photograph.

–IANS

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