NEW DELHI: The Supreme Court Monday directed that Gujarat's Dwarka assembly seat should not be declared vacant and admitted a plea by senior BJP leader Pabubha Manek challenging his disqualification as an MLA from there.
The top court however refused to stay the April 12 order of the Gujarat High Court which had set aside the election of Manek for submitting a defective nomination form and ordered by-election for the seat.
A bench of Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi and Justices Deepak Gupta and Sanjiv Khanna said that considering the matter relates to the dispute of validity of nomination filed, it would hear the appeal in September, 2019.
"No interim order for the present. However, it is made clear that the seat occupied by the appellant (Manek) to which the appellant was elected, shall not be notified to be vacant. Considering that the matter relates to dispute of validity of the nomination filed, the registry would list the matter for final disposal in the month of September, 2019," the bench said.
Manek's victory from the Dwarka Assembly constituency in 2017 was challenged in the high court by his opponent and Congress candidate Meramanbhai Goria.
Goria, in his petition, had said Manek's election should be set aside as he had submitted a defective nomination form having no mention about the name and number of the constituency, that is '82-Dwarka'.
Admitting the contention raised by him, the high court had cancelled the election held for the Dwarka seat in December 2017, saying that the defect in the nomination form was a "defect of substantial character as contemplated under the provisions of the Representation of the People Act, 1951".
Though Goria had also sought to declare himself as the winner for garnering second highest vote after Manek in the poll, the court had not accepted that prayer and only ordered the cancellation of the election of Manek, who is a seven-time MLA from that constituency.
In his petition, Goria had claimed that there was no mention of the name and number of the constituency in Manek's nomination form, a lapse which calls for cancellation of his election.
As per the petition, Manek's proposer Dharnant Bhulabhai Chavda mentioned his own name in a column meant for mentioning the number of and name of the constituency, that is '82-Dwarka'.
Instead of writing '82-Dwarka' in the specified space, Chavda wrote his full name in the nomination form.
The high court had held that it was indeed a 'defect of substantial character' as per the Representation of the People Act and according to some past Supreme Court judgements.
The court had also noted that the returning officer's action of rejecting the objections filed by Ahir at that time against Manek's nomination was "illegal".
The court had said the result of the election has been "materially affected by improper acceptance" of the nomination of Manek at that time.