Delay in disposal of pending election-related cases in Odisha sparks concern

Bhubaneswar: The 2019 election battle is over. But the fight still continues as defeated candidates have moved Orissa High Court challenging the election of their rivals citing various reasons. So far, 14 cases including one for Balasore Lok Sabha seat have been filed in Orissa High Court.

BJP’s defeated candidate from Kantabanji assembly segment, Laxman Bag has knocked the court’s door after losing the polls by a margin of 128 votes. Congress’ Santosh Singh Saluja won from the Kantabanji seat.

Bag alleged that there were discrepancies and the returning officer had informed that there was a polling of 1,82,411 votes. But on the counting day, he came to know that the total polling in the constituency was 1,91,077 votes.

“There was a conspiracy by officers as total vote count increased by over 8,000 votes. We have moved the High Court,” said Bag.

Not only Bag, 13 other candidates including BJD’s defeated candidate Debasish Samantaray, BJP’s Remuna candidate Govind Das, Polsara’s Golukanand Mallick (BJP) and Sushant Pradhan (BJP) of Boudh have filed cases against their opponents in High Court.

“The way the people of Remuna were cheated, I am hopeful that justice will be delivered by the court,” said BJP’s defeated candidate from Remuna Assembly Constituency, Govind Das.

BJD’s Ravindra Jena has also moved the court seeking disqualification of BJP’s Pratap Sarangi who has been elected as MP from Balasore LS seat.

Not only 2019 elections, similar cases were also registered by several candidates who tasted defeat in the 2014 polls. Out of the total cases, only the case pertaining to Sudergarh Assembly seat was disposed after four years and the verdict went against MLA Jogesh Singh who later moved the Supreme Court.

“On several occasions, several judges want early disposal of cases even though winning candidates adopt several tactics to ensure that their tenure is completed. For early disposal, cooperation from everybody is required,” said a petitioner’s lawyer, Pitambar Acharya.

As per the provisions under the Representation of the People Act, 1951, all matters and cases relating to elections should be disposed off within six months. But keeping in view the delay in disposal of old cases, concerns are now being raised whether the 14 cases filed in 2019 will see early disposal or not.