Delhi High Court Bar Association Electoral Commission Suspends Decision to Postpone 2022 DHCBA Elections for One Week

At a special hearing on Sunday, the Election Commission of the Delhi High Court Bar Association informed the Delhi High Court that it had decided to stay its decision to postpone the 2022 elections of the Delhi High Court Bar Association. bar of the Delhi High Court (DHCBA) for a period of one week. The election is scheduled for September 28.

The development came after a single judge bench made up of Judge Sanjeev Narula was hearing an urgent plea presented by the Delhi High Court Bar Association against the postponement of its elections scheduled for September 28 due to the unavailability of Electronic Voting Machines (EVMs) for the conduct of said elections.

Delhi University has provided EVMs for the conduct of elections to the DHCBA as well as other bar associations in Delhi.

The Court has also been informed by the DHCBA Elections Committee that it will explore all alternative options to obtain EVMs, in coordination with the bar association, that the elections proceed according to schedule.

However, it was specified that the date for filing the declarations of candidacy will be September 13 instead of September 12 because these have not been printed.

The Association’s Election Commission has also informed the Court that if no other source of EVM is available within a week, its decision dated September 10 to postpone the elections will stand until the EVM can be organized.

In hearing the decision made by the DHCBA Elections Committee, the Court noted:

“In light of the above decision of the Election Commission, the election is currently back on schedule.

The DHCBA has challenged the letter from the University of Delhi dated September 8 stating that before providing EVMs for the upcoming elections, a backlog of Rs. 1,10,29,948 needs to be cleared regarding the 2019 DHCBA elections.

As a result, on September 10, the DHCBA decided that since electronic voting machines were not available and it would take some time to arrange from other sources, it would not be possible to organize the 2022 DHCBA elections according to the timetable. The elections have been postponed until further notice.

The plea thus asserts that the illegal, unwarranted and arbitrary action of Delhi University led to the sabotage of the scheduled elections.

“Because the timing of the said demand letter dated 08.09.2022 is highly suspicious and it cannot be excluded that it was an attempt by some vested interests to derail the electoral process which affected its end after a meticulous process of obtaining the declarations of the electors, control of these, payment of the contributions and establishment of the electoral lists“, we read in the plea.

The plea therefore requests Delhi University to provide EVMs for the 2022 DHCBA elections without insisting on any claim for alleged dues. He also asks the Association’s Electoral Commission to conduct the elections on September 28, in accordance with the timetable.

In accordance with the 2022 DHCBA Election Calendar, the deadline for filing nomination papers is September 12-14; the examination of applications takes place on September 15; the withdrawal of nomination papers is from September 16 to 17 and the ballot is scheduled for September 28.

During today’s hearing, Senior Attorney Mohit Mathur appearing for DHCBA argued that the demand made by Delhi University was arbitrary and unviable in the eyes of the law as the monetary demand was raised without any basis. Mathur also pointed out that the EVM machines were returned in May 2019 immediately after the election was held.

On the other hand, Senior Attorney Anil Sapra appearing for another petitioner argued that the University’s claim was time-barred and also pointed out that prior to the impugned communication, DU had never raised such a claim.

Senior Attorney Ravi Kant Chadha representing the DHCBA Election Commission pointed out to the Court that immediately after being informed of the situation, a decision was made to postpone the 2022 elections because in the absence of EVM machines, the first effort by the commission election was to procure said machines from other sources.

He further informed the Court that the DHCBA Election Commission was in contact with officials from the Election Commission of India who could provide the machines and therefore efforts were being made to ensure that the election schedule would not be disrupted.

Taking note of the said submission, the Court said that the DHCBA Elections Committee would be able to reconsider the matter after obtaining information from the ECI and other relevant authorities.

Initially, lead attorneys Anil Sapra and N Hariharan argued that if the EVM machines are not purchased from the sources, the DHCBA election commission may also consider conducting ballot elections.

On this, Chadha said the decision was made at the current stage and other options would be considered in light of the situation as it arises.

The Court thus released the case for interim hearing on Tuesday, while granting time to the lawyer of the University of Delhi to answer the request.

Title: DHCBA & Anr. vs. University of Delhi & Anr.

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