In an order dated February 16, 2023, the Delhi High Court stayed the operation of the letter dated February 10, 2023, issued by the Returning Officer rejecting the nomination forms submitted by the petitioners prohibiting them from contesting the upcoming elections of office bearers of the Basketball Federation of India (BFI). The court held that the nominations of the petitioners were rejected on “flimsy grounds”.
As per the National Elections Guidelines formulated under the National Sports Development Code, 2021, a federation should have seven office bearers and five executive members (the managing committee). The nomination forms of the petitioners were rejected on the ground that the forms were not submitted in the format prescribed under the Model Election Guidelines. Aggrieved, the petitioners filed a civil writ petition bearing no. 1915/2023 before the Delhi High Court seeking a direction to the Returning Officer to accept the nomination forms of the petitioners.
The court asserted that as per Section 36(4) of the Representation of People Act, 1951, no nomination paper could be rejected by the Returning Officer on account of a defect that is not substantial. After careful examination of the nomination forms submitted by the candidates and the prescribed format for the same, the court held that the “form does not lack any of the relevant information which was required to have been submitted in Form 2 relied upon by the respondent No.3-Returning Officer”.
Relying upon case laws, the respondents contended that the High Court could not interfere with the election under Article 226 of the Constitution once the election was over. To this contention, the court replied that the election had not been conducted yet and “the present is a case of ‘selection’ while en bloc rejecting the nomination form of all other candidates”.
Hence, the Delhi High Court ordered a stay on the operation of the letter dated February 10, 2023, rejecting the petitioners’ nomination forms, thereby prohibiting them from contesting the BFI elections. The matter has been listed on a future date.