RAM CHANDRA SHUKLA Vs. ELECTION COMMISSION
HIGH COURT OF PUNJAB AND HARYANA
RAM CHANDRA SHUKLA
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Bishan Narain, J. -
(1.) RAM Chandra Shukla has applied for a writ under article 226 of the Constitution in the nature of mandamus directing the Election Commission of India to reserve the symbol "tree" for the Socialist Party of Uttar Pradesh to which he states he belongs. It may be pointed out that the relief claimed in the petition is not very happily worded, but there is no doubt that the petitioner seeks a writ of mandamus for reserving the symbol for his party. The circumstances which have led to this petition are these. As provided in article 324 of the Constitution an Election Commission has been constituted for the purpose of superintendence, direction and control of the preparation of the electoral rolls and conduct of all elections to the Union or State Legislatures. In exercise of the powers conferred by section 169 of the Representation of the People Act, 1951, the Central Government after consulting the Election Commission have framed rules known as the Representation of the People (Conduct of Elections and Election Petitions) Rules, 1956, superseding their previous rules of 1951. Rule 5 of these rules reads:
5. Declaration as to symbol to accompany nomination paper in certain cases. - -
(1) The Election Commission shall, as soon as may be after the commencement of these rules, by notification in the Official Gazette, publish a list of symbols and may in like manner add to or vary such list.
(2) In constituencies other than Council constituencies, every nomination paper delivered under sub -section (1) of section 33 shall be also accompanied by a declaration in writing specifying the particular symbol which the candidate has chosen for his first preference out of the list of symbols for the time being in force under sub -rule (1) and also specifying two other symbols out of that list which he has chosen for his second and third preferences respectively.
Provided that the choice to be made by a candidate under this sub -rule shall be subject to such restrictions as the Election Commission may think fit to impose in that behalf.
(2.) ACCORDINGLY , the Election Commission on the 8th of September, 1951, published a list of about 25 symbols and at that time it was decided that separate symbols should be reserved for each of the main political parties in the country and the rest should be left "free" to be adopted by any candidate. The parties were demarcated on all -India or State basis. When the last election was held in 1952 there was no data available on which it could be determined whether a group of candidates could be considered to be forming a political party on all -India or State basis or not, and, therefore, the Election Commission decided this matter on ad hoc basis and recognised 14 political parties on all -India basis. The Socialist Party and the Kisan Mazdoor Praja Party were two of the parties that were so recognised and symbols were allotted on that basis. Some other parties were recognised on State basis and symbols were allotted to them as such. After the general elections the Election Commission got some idea as to the support that a particular party had amongst the electors and taking advantage of this experience the Election Commission decided to lay down a test for recognising political parties. It issued a press note on the 6th of February, 1953, informing the public of the test laid down by it and this test was to the effect that if the total number of the valid votes polled by all the candidates set up by a political party was less than 3 per cent of the total votes cast in the general elections, then it will not be recognised as a political party for the purposes of getting a symbol reserved for itself. In the same press note five parties were mentioned to have satisfied the test on all -India basis and certain other parties were mentioned as having fulfilled the test on "State" basis. These parties were considered as recognised parties and symbols allotted to them in the last elections were retained as reserved for them and all the other symbols were classified by this press note as "free". It appears that no objection to this press note was made by any political party or any other party or group of persons or individuals at that time. Now that the general elections are about to take place next month this press note has become the subject -matter of discussion and is being objected to by the petitioner as he considers himself to be adversely affected by it. The petitioner alleges himself to be the chairman of the "Socialist Party of Uttar Pradesh" and proposes to contest at the next election to the Uttar Pradesh State Legislature as a candidate of his party. His request to the Election Commission to recognise his party and to reserve this symbol of "tree" has been rejected; hence this petition.
(3.) THE case of the petitioner is shortly this. For the purposes of the last general election the Socialist Party and the Kisan Mazdoor Praja Party were individually recognised as parties on all -India basis. Both parties separately secured more than 3 per cent of the total votes cast. In 1953, these two parties merged together and formed a new party called "the Praja Socialist Party." This party founded by the merger of the two parties is recognised as a party on all -India basis. The petitioner alleges that in 1955, owing to certain political differences a large number of legislators and workers left the Praja Socialist Party and reconstituted a party known as Socialist Party. And it is further alleged that this reconstituted party has branches all over India. The present petition, however, has not been made on behalf of this alleged all India body but by a person who alleges himself to be the president of the State branch of the party. According to the petitioner persons who are members of his party in Uttar Pradesh had polled more than 3 per cent of the votes cast and therefore the party is entitled to get a symbol reserved for it. This petition is opposed by the Election Commission.;
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