Larnoo-8 DDC Poll Controversy | HC restrains PDP, independent candidate from holding office

High court of Jammu and Kashmir, Srinagar branch. [Mubashir Khan for Greater Kashmir]

The High Court Friday restrained an independent candidate for District Development Council (DDC) polls from Larnoo-8 seat in south Kashmir who on recounting of votes was declared new winner on February 5 as well as the candidate from the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) who was declared winner earlier.

After recounting of votes, independent candidate Sajida Begum, who had previously lost by seven votes, was declared winner by 61 votes against Khalid Bibi, a PDP candidate and the previously-declared winner.

The recounting of votes was carried out following the directions by the Additional Commissioner, Kashmir as appellate authority where Begum had preferred an appeal.

A bench of Justice Sanjay Dhar restrained Begum and Bibi from holding the office after the court heard the aggrieved candidate Bibi through senior counsel Z A Shah.

The court admitted the petition after hearing Bibi and perusing the material on record.

“It appears that the important questions of law have arisen in the writ petition for consideration of this court. The writ petition is, therefore, admitted to hearing,” the court said.

Issuing notice on the petition, the court asked the authorities concerned to file objections to it by March 26.

“Meanwhile, petitioner (Bibi) as well as respondent No 1 (Begum) are restrained from holding the office of member of DDC Anantnag,” the court said.

In her plea, Bibi challenged the order dated 2nd February 2021 passed by additional Commissioner Kashmir and order dated 3rd February 2021 issued by District Panchayat Election Officer, Anantnag, whereby recounting of votes of 8-Larnoo DDC constituency, Anantnag was ordered.

Besides this, Bibi had also challenged the result of recounting dated 5th February 2021 and the certificate of election issued by the Returning Officer in favour of Begum.

Bibi contended before the court that the order dated 2nd February 2021, passed by the appellate authority was made without hearing her in violation of the principles of natural justice.

She said, as such, the recounting of votes in pursuance to the order and the result of election declared on the said basis was illegal.

Bibi contends that the authorities had without revoking the certificate of election issued in her favour declared Begum as successful candidate, creating a situation where both she and Begum were holding valid certificates of election.

Bibi had also challenged the election of Begum pursuant to recounting of votes on the ground that even after the recounting of votes, there was discrepancy in the number of votes polled and the number of votes counted.