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Meghalaya HC dismisses petition claiming election code violation by Marcuise N. Marak

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Shillong, Aug 23: The Meghalaya High Court on Tuesday dismissed a writ petition filed by social activist Tennydard M Marak against NPP legislator from Williamnagar and cabinet minister Marcuise N. Marak for allegedly violating the Model Code of Conduct (MCC) during the 2023 Assembly elections.

“The position of law being crystal clear, the writ petition seeking invocation of the writ jurisdiction of this Court, in an attempt to unseat the respondent No 7 (Williamnagar MLA), is therefore not maintainable and is liable to be dismissed,” Justice HS Thangkhiew said in his judgment.

“Accordingly, the writ petition for the reasons aforementioned is dismissed with costs of Rs.15,000/ – (Rupees Fifteen Thousand) only to be paid to the Meghalaya State Legal Services Authority for the purposes of legal aid, within 15 (fifteen) days from the date of this order,” he said.

The writ petition was also filed against the purported inaction on the part of the Election Commission of India, Chief Electoral Officer, State of Meghalaya and other official respondents on complaints by the petitioner about the violation of the provisions of the Representation of the People Act, 1951 as well as the Model Code of Conduct, during the general elections for the Legislative Assembly of the State of Meghalaya held in 2023 by the Williamnagar MLA.

Tennydard had prayed for directions for registration of a case on the basis of a complaint dated 23.02.2023 and FIR dated 03.04.2023.

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The Advocate General A. Kumar, in reply submitted that the allegations contained in the writ petition are totally confined to allegations against the MLA, for violation of the Model Code of Conduct and as such, the writ petition on this ground itself is not maintainable, as the same is barred by Article 329(b) of the Constitution, which has laid down that no election to either House of Parliament or to the House of the Legislature of a State shall be called in question except by an Election Petition.

It was further submitted that Section 80 of the RP Act, 1951, specifically provides that no election shall be called in question except by an Election Petition presented in accordance with the provisions of this part, and as such, the instant writ petition is liable to be dismissed.

The Advocate General also drew the attention of the Court to the fact that the verbal submissions as made by the counsel for the petitioner is not reflected anywhere in the pleadings of the writ petition and further that, even the complaint dated 23.02.2023, on which action is sought, was not even filed by the petitioner but by another person namely a candidate from South Tura named Leslee K. Sangma.

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The petitioner, he submitted, had already approached this Court by way of Election Petition being Election Petition No. 8 of 2023, but withdrew the same on 25.05.2023, on realizing that the same was filed beyond the prescribed period of limitation and therefore, was not maintainable. He therefore submitted that the petitioner in filing the instant writ application is abusing the process of law, in view of the express bar by law in seeking such reliefs as prayed.

Dr. N. Mozika, DSGI representing the respondents No. 1 and 2, while endorsing and adopting the submissions made by the Advocate General, also submitted that the results of the election were declared on 02.03.2023, and the complaint was submitted on 23.03.2023, after the election process was over and the Model Code of Conduct no longer in force. Once elections are over, he submitted, the only remedy available to the petitioner, subject to establishing his locus standi, was to file and pursue an Election Petition, which the petitioner failed to do within the prescribed time limit of 45 (forty -five) days from the date of declaration of election results. As such, he submitted that the writ petition is not maintainable and liable to be rejected in limine.

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