SC Rejects Plea on Election Symbol Allotment Issue, Says It Would Be Disruptive of Poll Process

The Supreme Court on Monday dismissed a plea which raised the issue relating to allotment of election symbols, saying it would be “disruptive” of the poll process and litigation cannot be a “hobby”.

The apex court was hearing a plea challenging the Allahabad High Court’s verdict last year which had dismissed a petition that said the Election Commission (EC) has no power to allot an election symbol.

A bench of Justices S K Kaul and A S Oka noted that the petitioner, a practising advocate, has contended that the EC has no power to allot a symbol and only the returning officer can allot it.

“We find the aforesaid a completely misreading of the rules and is in fact disruptive of the election process….,” the bench said.

“We feel this is a complete wastage of judicial time and thus, dismiss the petition with cost of Rs 25,000,” the top court said.

At the outset, the petitioner told the bench that her case before the high court was that there is a use and abuse of election symbol.

“There is a recognised party which goes through the process of recognition. Thereafter, there has to be a symbol assigned. What is wrong? Are we to just keep on creating litigation just for the sake of litigation,” the bench orally observed, adding, “It cannot become a hobby litigation”.

The petitioner argued the law says that symbols are allotted to the contesting candidates at the time of election.

The bench observed that a party, which is recognised as a political party, gives an authorisation to a candidate for the purpose of contesting polls under their symbol.

“You want to disrupt that process?,” the bench asked.

The bench said if a candidate is not using the election symbol, then how can he or she contest.

The petitioner said the law prescribes the period of use of election symbol and there is an admission of the EC that they are allotting symbol to the political party.

She argued that the law says allotment will happen to the contesting candidate and the power of allotment lies with the returning officer.

“Sorry. Absolutely sorry,” the bench said, adding, “We are very clear that the impugned order reflects the correct position in law”.

The apex court observed that litigation “cannot be a hobby”, even if it is for a lawyer.

When the petitioner argued that some mischief is happening, the bench said, “There is no mischief. If your argument was to be accepted, it is disruptive of the election process”.

Before the high court, the plea had sought a direction to the EC to direct all recognised political parties to immediately stop and restrain from using the reserved election symbols themselves as their party trademark, and for the purpose and period beyond the ‘contested election’.

In its order, the high court had noted that the petitioner has contended that reservation of symbols has to be for a particular period and not for all times to come.

“We are of the considered view that the symbol is reserved for a recognised political party because of their special status as already noticed hereinabove and for their use considering their importance in the democratic polity of this country,” the high court had said.

It had noted that the petitioner has failed to understand the distinction between “reservation of symbols” and “allotment of symbols”.

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