Orissa HC dismisses plea of former Jajpur MP for form 17 C

Initially, Sarmistha Sethi had sought a supply of the Form 17 C information through an application by her election agent. But the district election officer refused to oblige it.
Orissa High Court
Orissa High Court Photo | Express

CUTTACK: The Orissa High Court has dismissed the petition of former MP Sarmistha Sethi for supply of Form 17 C in respect of Jajpur Lok Sabha constituency in 2024 general elections, results of which were declared on June 4. Form 17 C records the voter turnout in every polling station of a constituency.

Initially, Sethi had sought supply of the Form 17 C information through an application by her election agent. But the district election officer refused to oblige stating that the records cannot be supplied as they have been stored and sealed in the strong room as part of the statutory documents. The strong room can only be opened by the order of the competent court.

Sethi had then moved the high court seeking direction to supply Form 17 C, which she stated was required to file an election petition for challenging the election process. Sethi of BJD, who won from Jajpur Parliamentary constituency in 2019, lost to Dr Rabi Narayan Behera of the BJP by a margin of 1,587 votes in the recently concluded polls.

However, the single judge bench of Justice KR Mohapatra on July 1 said, “Since the statutory period for filing of the election petition has not yet expired, it would not be proper on the part of this court to issue such a direction at this stage more particularly when the opening of the seal of the strong room before the statutory period is over may affect the sanctity of the entire election process.”

Justice Mohapatra also observed that the petitioner has not made out any case as to how she is prejudiced for non-supply of the documents sought for. “As it appears, the petitioner is not sure about the allegation to be made challenging the election process. Thus, by filing of this writ petition, the petitioner makes an attempt for a roving enquiry into the election process by order of this court, which should not be encouraged.”

Justice Mohapatra held that there was no requirement to enclose a copy of Form 17 C, along with the petition.

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