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HC refuses urgent hearing of PIL challenging Mukesh Dalal’s victory in Surat

Updated: May 1st, 2024

A controversial rule has drawn questions about democracy after the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) sealed its first victory for the Lok Sabha elections 2024 from the Surat constituency, as the seat was declared unopposed. 

The BJP candidate Mukesh Dalal was named the winner on Apr 22 without any elections in Surat constituency and drew a public interest litigation (PIL) in the Gujarat High Court.

However, the High Court on Apr 30 refused to grant an urgent hearing PIL against the declaration of BJP candidate Mukesh Dalal as the winner of the Surat Lok Sabha seat.

Petitioner Bhavesh Patel argued that the Election Commission of India violated the Representation of the People Act by not allowing voters to exercise their franchise. According to him, the voters still have the option to cast their vote as 'none of the above' (NOTA).

To this end, the bench of Chief Justice Sunita Agarwal and Justice Aniruddha Mayee said, "An unopposed candidate can be considered elected the same as a candidate who wins through voting."

The High Court further held that the Representation of the People Act does not have any provisions for treating unopposed candidates differently. 

The HC dismissed the PIL and told the petitioner that they had approached the wrong forum.

According to the handbook of returning officers, “If in any constituency there is only one contesting candidate, declare that candidate to have been duly elected immediately after the last hour for withdrawal of candidature. In that event, a poll is not necessary.”

Also read:

BJP opens account as Surat Lok Sabha seat declared uncontested

Nilesh Kumbhani under fire for Congress’ Surat Lok Sabha fiasco