The Supreme Court on Friday rejected the challenge to the election of Congress leader Dhiraj Prasad Sahu as a Rajya Sabha MP from Jharkhand in 2018.
The apex court dismissed the appeal filed by the BJP candidate, who had lost the poll from the state, challenging the verdict of the Jharkhand High Court which had rejected the plea against Sahu’s election.
A bench headed by Chief Justice S A Bobde said the vote cast by then MLA Amit Kumar Mahto, who was convicted by a trial court on the date of voting for Rajya Sabha poll on March 23, 2018, was valid.
The top court said Mahto had cast the vote before the trial court’s verdict.
The high court had delivered its judgement on January 17 this year and dismissed the election petition filed by Pradeep Kumar Sonthalia, who was a BJP candidate in the 2018 Rajya Sabha poll from Jharkhand, challenging Sahu’s election as a member of the upper house.
The BJP leader, in his appeal filed in the apex court, had challenged the part of high court’s verdict which had rejected his plea and observed that he had neither made a prayer for recounting of votes nor the Election Commission of India was made a party.
“The high court has gravely erred in denying the relief to the appellant (Sonthalia) on the premises that no prayer has been made for recounting of the votes and Election Commission of India has not been made party in the case,” the plea had said.
The plea had said that a notification was issued by Election Commission in February 2018 for Rajya Sabha election on two seats in Jharkhand and on March 12, Sonthalia had filed his nomination as a BJP candidate.
Besides Sonthalia, two others — Samir Oraon from BJP and Dheeraj Prasad Sahu from Congress — also filed their nominations for the two seats.
The plea had said that Mahto was convicted on March 23, 2018 by a trial court in a criminal case and order on sentence was pronounced on the same day in the second half and he was sentenced to two years.
It said that before declaration of result of Rajya Sabha poll, Sonthalia had made an objection in writing that Mahto was convicted and sentenced for two years so his vote should be declared invalid.
The plea said the returning officer declared Samir Oraon and Dheeraj Prasad Sahu to be elected as Rajya Sabha members from Jharkhand on March 24.
Sonthalia had said that the returning officer had rejected his objection with regard to validity of Mahto’s vote on grounds that he had not received the judgement of conviction till the declaration of result.
He had filed an election petition before the high court on March 28, 2018 and submitted that if Mahto’s vote was held to be invalid as a result of his disqualification, then he would have been elected.