EC seeks explanation from Munugode returning officer who changed an independent candidate’s symbol

The Election Commission of India has taken a serious view of the Munugode returning officer’s decision to change the originally allotted symbol of an independent candidate and sought an explanation from him before 5 pm on Thursday.

The EC, in a letter, addressed to the Chief Electoral Officer Vikas Raj, questioned the decision of the returning officer of changing the symbol of the “Road Roller” allotted to Yuga Thulasi Party, a registered unrecognised political party, and allotting a new symbol “Baby Walker” to the contesting candidate K. Shiva Kumar. The Commission took serious note of a complaint lodged by the contestant .

The EC said in its letter that after completion of the process of allotment of symbol, the RO of 93-Munugode assembly constituency changed the free symbol road roller and allotted a new free symbol baby walker to K. Shiva Kumar (order no. B/955/2022 dated 17.10.2022) without the knowledge or consultation with the Observer. The RO had neither given any notice to the candidate nor intimated in advance before passing the order.

The Commission said it had gone through all the papers placed on the record and considered the cases. Explaining the circumstances, the EC said: “From the plain reading of the provisions, it is clear under Rule 10(5) of Conduct of Election Rules, 1961, only the Election Commission and not the RO is empowered to revise the allotment order, if the same is inconsistent with any direction issued by the Elections Commission”.

“Thus the RO’s order changing the symbol in place of originally allotted symbol to K. Shiva Kumar invoking the provisions of Rule 10(5) is ab-intio void being bad in law and facts,” the commission said adding the order was inconsistent with the Commission’s relevant directions. In view of the fact that RO quashing his earlier order and allotting a new symbol by way of non-existent powers with him being non-est and void ab-intio, the decision allotting road roller symbol survives.

The commissioner said it took a serious view of the lapse on the part of the RO and directed him to explain the circumstances under which he changed his decision by using non-existent powers and also not following the Commission’s extant directions.

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