Minor lapses in holding poll no ground of unseating MLA: SC

New Delhi, Jan 19 (PTI) A legislator cannot be unseatedon grounds of minor procedural lapses in holding an electionunless it is proved that the lapse materially affected thepoll result, the Supreme Court has held.

"The proof of mere non-compliance of any of theprovisions of the (Representation of the Peoples) Act or theRules framed thereunder by itself, without showing that suchnon-compliance had materially affected the result of theelection would not be sufficient to declare it void," held anapex court bench.

The ruling on the electoral law was given by a bench ofjustices J M Panchal and Gyan Sudha Mishra, endorsing aGauhati High Court ruling.

The apex court gave its verdict on an election petitionseeking to unseat BJP legislator Prasanta Phukan fromDibrugarh.

The petition had been filed by Congress candidate KalyanKuamr Gogoi who had finished the runners-up, losing theelection by 176 votes.

Gogoi had sought unseating Phukhan on the ground thatduring the 2006 state assembly elections, one of the pollingbooths in Dibrugarh assembly constituency operated for acouple of hours in the morning in a non-notified school.

Gogoi had contended in his petition that due to settingup of the polling booth in a non-notified school, which, healleged, was about 1.5 to 2 kilometers away from the schoolnotified originally for setting up the booth, over 200 to 300voters were not able to cast their votes.

During adjudication of Gogoi''s election petition, thehigh court, however, discovered that though the polling boothhad been set up at a school different from the originallynotified one, the booth was shifted back to the original venuewithin less than two hours after the voting began.

The high court also found that the non-notified school,from where the polling booth operated for less than two hours,was merely 100 meters away and at a visible distance from theschool notified for setting up the polling booths.

The apex court concurred with the high court''s findingsthat these minor procedural lapses in holding the electionsdid not materially affect the result.

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