At, High Court of Bihar
By, THE HONOURABLE MR. JUSTICE BARIN GHOSH
For the Appearing Parties: ---------
BARIN GHOSH, J.
(1.) The petitioner seeks to cast his vote in the ensuing panchayat election. Having regard to the mandate contained in Section 126 of the Panchayat Raj Ordinance 2006, the petitioner is not entitled to cast such vote inasmuch as his name was not there rightly or wrongly in the voters list published at the time of last assembly election.
(2.) Section 126 of the Bihar Panchayat Raj Ordinance 2006 is as follows: Electors of Panchayat:-All such persons who are enrolled as ele
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ctors in the electoral roll or that part of the rolls of the State Legislative Assembly Constituency for the time being in force which is concerned with the territorial constituency of any Gram Panchavat shall be the electors for concerned Panchavat Elections: Provided that the State Election Commission suo motu or on receipt of written representation from an aggrieved person, is of the opinion that there is sufficient reason for doing so, may direct such changes to be made in the electoral rolls of the concerned territorial constituency of the Panchavat, as it may deem proper: Provided further that no such change of the electoral roll shall be made after the notification of the date of Panchavat Election by the Governor under Section 124 of the Ordinance.
(3.) Learned counsel for the State Election Commission submitted that the first proviso to Section 126 of the said Ordinance entitles the State Election Commission to include in the electoral roll of the Panchavat such person whose name is although there in the electoral roll of last Legislative Assembly election but for some reason or the other has not been included in the electoral roll prepared for panchavat election. This submission has been made on instructions. The Election Commission has given this instruction in order to shield its failure to discharge statutory obligations. The Election Commission is seeking to insert something in Section 126 which is not there and this has been done with the sole object of shielding its inability to act in accordance with the statutory mandate.
(4.) A plain reading of Section 126 of the said Ordinance would show that only those persons who have been enrolled as electors in the electoral roll of last State Legislative Assembly election shall be entitled to be electors for the concerned Gram Panchayat election. The provision authorises the State Election Commission to effect changes to be made in the electoral rolls of the territorial constituency of any Gram Panchayat. It, therefore authorises the State Election Commission to include a name in the electoral roll of the electors for concerned panchavat election despite such person's name is not thee in the electoral roll of last State Legislate Assembly election.
(5.) In the instant case the name of the petitioner was not included in the electoral roll of last State Legistative Assembly election. She applied for being added as elector in the electoral roll. Her application was considered at the Block level. The Block Development Officer found substance in her application and accordingly made appropriate recommendations. This was brought to the notice of the State Election Commission. The State Election Commission did nothing. Ultimately the District Magistrate on 24th February, 2006 requested the State Election Commission to include the name of the petitioner in the electoral roll. Despite that, the State Election Commission did not include the name of the petitioner in the electoral roll for the panchavat election. On 25th February, 2006. The Governor under Section 124 of the Ordinance notified the date of panchavat election and as such the Election Commission is contending that the Election Commission is now not in a position to include the name of the petitioner in the electoral roll. Why the Election Commission did not include the name of the petitioner in the electoral roll despite a request to that effect having been made to it by the District Magistrate, the Election Commission has instructed its learned counsel to submit that in terms of the proviso the Election Commission can only include names of those persons whose names were published in the electoral roll of last State Legislative Assembly election but by mistake have not been included in the electoral roll of panchavat election. This submission was made as aforesaid with a view to shield the utter failure on the part of the Election Commission to act in accordance with the Statuary mandate contained in the proviso to Section 126 of the Ordinance. Accordingly though it would not be possible for me at this stage to direct the Election Commission to include the name of the petitioner in the electoral roll of the panchavat election in view of the notification under Section 124 of the Ordinance having been published but inasmuch as for no just reason the Election Commission has ensured complete denial of the right of the petitioner to caste her vote, the Election Commission is directed to pay compensation of Rs. 50,000/- to the petitioner within a period of two months from today. This disposes of the writ petition