KOCHI: Can the nomination of a candidate rejected by two returning officers (ROs) be accepted by a third one? Yes. That is what exactly happened with regard to the poll papers filed by Solar scam accused Saritha Nair in Amethi, Uttar Pradesh.
Legal experts say a candidate can file nomination only from two constituencies. And if both are rejected, he/she may be considered ineligible to contest the elections. The ROs of Ernakulam and Wayanad had rejected Saritha’s papers citing she was convicted by the Perumbavoor and Pathanamthitta Judicial First Class Magistrate Courts in two criminal cases registered in connection with the Solar scam. The ROs stated the conviction order against Saritha exists and only the sentence has been suspended.
Hence Saritha attracted disqualification under section 8(3) of the Representation of the People Act. Though she approached the Kerala High Court challenging the ROs’ decision, the court dismissed her plea. The HC had made it clear the remedy for the aggrieved candidate was only through an election petition. And since it can be filed only after the election, the court’s intervention would not justify the ROs’ decision. The Amethi RO, meanwhile, accepted the same nomination. Saritha said she had furnished all information in the affidavit and nobody challenged her application in Amethi. She added she managed to get the signatures of 10 electors in Amethi as proposers.
According to Election Commission officers, the RO is the final authority in the matter. Accepting the nomination was the officer’s prerogative. Now that the officer has accepted it, she can contest there. However, alleged improper acceptance of her nomination can be challenged through an election petition after the polls.
Legal experts further pointed out filing a third nomination is against the law. Once a candidate presents nomination, he/she becomes a nominated candidate. If a nomination is accepted he/she becomes a validly nominated candidate. Section 33 (7) of the Representation of the People Act permits a person to be nominated or contest from only up to two constituencies. In the nomination, the candidate should declare that he or she has not been nominated from more than two parliamentary constituencies.Saritha said there was nothing wrong in filing the nomination since the first two nominations were rejected by the returning officers.