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Court fines ‘cavalier’ petitioner

New Delhi, Dec. 11: A full five-judge Constitution bench of the Supreme Court today upheld the election procedure for the President of India.

The bench, presided over by Chief Justice G.B. Pattanaik, also dismissed a challenge to the election of A.P.J. Abdul Kalam as President and imposed a Rs 25,000 fine on petitioner Charan Lal Sahu, a practising apex court advocate.

The bench said it was “regrettable” that an “advocate” protested against the election procedure in a “cavalier” and “light-hearted manner”.

Sahu challenged the procedure of 10 MPs signing the proposal favouring a presidential candidate and an equal number seconding it. This, he said, violated a citizen’s fundamental right to contest the election to the country’s highest office.

According to the bench, the procedure established for the President’s election was upheld in several earlier decisions in similar petitions against K.R. Narayanan and Neelam Sanjiva Reddy.

The present petitioner, the bench said, “although an advocate, has not learnt any lesson from the observations made by this court in the earlier judgments”.

The conditions imposed on a candidate seriously wanting to contest for the office of President were “reasonable”. The provision that Sahu challenged “would be valid”, the bench said.

Citing from the Neelam Sanjiva Reddy case, the bench emphasised: “It is clear that Article 58 (of the Constitution) only provides the qualifications or conditions for the eligibility of a candidate.

“It has nothing to do with the nomination of a candidate which requires 10 proposers and 10 seconders.

“We think that in an election to such a high office as that of the President of India, it is quite reasonable to lay down the condition that a person… allowed to contest… must have at least 10 proposers and 10 seconders from among hundreds of electors who are legislators.”

The bench also upheld the returning officer’s decision to reject Sahu’s nomination papers. “In our opinion the returning officer rightly overruled the objections filed by the petitioner questioning the validity of the nomination paper of Sahu,” the Supreme Court bench said.

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