In a ground-breaking and significant judgment of the Manipur High Court, HS Benjamin Mate of the BJP was declared the MP of the Outer Manipur Parliamentary constituency after winning the election petition against sitting MP Lorho S. Pfoze, the first Naga People’s Front MP elected from Manipur.
The election petition was filed in the Manipur High Court by petitioner Houlim Shokhopao Mate @ Benjamin under Section 100(1) (d) (i) & (iv) and Section 100 (1) (b) of the Representation of People (RP) Act, 1951 to declare that the election result of Lorho S. Pfoze as null and void and declare the petitioner as the duly elected Member of the 17th Lok Sabha, 2019.
Justice M V Muralidaran, following a series of hearings which began in June 2022, pronounced the judgment & order on Friday, September 23, 2022. The sensational case was between Houlim Shokhopao Mate as the petitioner versus Lorho S. Pfoze.
In the MP election on April 11, 2019, eight candidates contested for the 2-Outer Manipur (ST) Parliamentary Constituency, Pfoze received 3,63,527 votes, defeating his nearest rival Houlim Shokhopao Mate from BJP by a margin of 73,782 votes. However, after the HC order, the petitioner Mate, who received a majority of valid votes numbering 2,89,745, was declared elected.
Houlim Shokhopao Matefrom BJP alleged that the winner Lorho S. Pfoze first filed his affidavit in Form 26 on 21st March 2019 along with his nomination paper as a candidate sponsored by the Naga People’s Front (NPF) before the Returning Officer.
According to Mate, during scrutiny, the Returning Officer abruptly and improperly accepted the nomination paper of the first respondent. As a result, there was no proper scrutiny as envisaged under Section 36(2) of the RP Act. Mate alleged that the affidavit in Form 26 filed by the first respondent suffers from several defects. including discrepancies in declared income and failing to give details of contracts entered into by private companies in which the candidate or the spouse or dependents have a share.
Mate also alleged that Lorho failed to open the bank account which is required to be opened one day ahead of filing his nomination paper along with his affidavit dated 21.03.2019 as per the mandatory instructions of the Election Commission of India. All account expenditures, including the expenditure for buying nomination paper, should be expended through his bank account opened specifically for his election expenditure. There was no separate election bank account for the first respondent on 21.03.2019. The acceptance of cash exceeding Rs 10,000 by the first respondent from the donors is against the mandatory instruction and is also illegal which amounts to corrupt practice.
Consequent upon the findings that the election of the first respondent Lorho is declared null and void, the petitioner Mate was declared as an elected member of 2-Outer Manipur (ST) Parliamentary Constituency in the General Election to 17th Lok Sabha, 2019 as he secured the highest votes after the first respondent Lorho. Accordingly, the Election Petition is allowed by declaring the election of the Respondent No. 1 as Member of 2-Outer Manipur (ST) Parliamentary Constituency to the 17th Lok Sabha, 2019 as null and void and the Court declared that the Petitioner is duly elected as a member of 2-Outer Manipur (ST) Parliamentary Constituency.
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