Orissa HC Upholds Collector’s Decision On Nullifying Sarpanch Election In Nuapada Dist

Cuttack: The Orissa High Court has upheld the decision of Nuapada collector on declaring the election of a sarpanch in Odisha’s Nuapada district as null and void in 2017.

As per the case, Manita Sahu was elected to the post of sarpanch of Saliha panchayat in Nuapada block on February 27, 2017. When Jagdev Majhi and others challenged her election on the ground that she had not attained the minimum age of 21 years at the time of filing the nomination, then collector declared it null and void.

Sahu had moved the High Court against the collector’s decision. After hearing the case, Justice Biswanath Rath on April 9, 2019 quashed the collector’s order observing that the latter should not have exercised the jurisdiction under Section 26 of Orissa Gram Panchayats Act, 1964.

After Majhi and others filed an appeal in the High Court, a division bench comprising Justice SK Mishra and Justice Savitri Ratho set aside the order of Justice Rath on the ground that it was not sustainable. The election of Sahu to the post of sarpanch was illegal as she did not have the qualification to contest the election on the date in question, they said in a judgment, a copy of which was made available on Monday.

“In our considered  opinion, an application under section 26 of the Act has within its gamut the absence of qualification as well as the presence of disqualification. Though there is no mention as about the date on which the candidate should complete 21 years, we are of the opinion that it is on the date of nomination that she/he should have attained the age of 21. In this case, the factual findings of the Collector, Nuapada state that the date of birth of Manita Sahu is September 29, 1997. Hence, she had not attained the age of 21 years on the date of nomination and this was not set aside by the single judge. Therefore, her nomination is illegal and cannot be upheld by the court”, TNIE quoted the judges as stating.

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