Jabalpur High Court direction for conduct of Bhopal Chambers of Commerce and Industry election

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Jabalpur: The Jabalpur High Court on Tuesday 9 November issued order in the interest of justice directing the 3  newly appointed Assistants to Secretary Bhopal Chambers of Commerce and Industry to conduct in place of the Secretary/Returning Officer the  Chambers’ election. The newly appointed  assistants are Aakash  Telang,  Rohit  Shroti and Anshul  Agrawal, all advocates. 

The order comes in response to a petition by Lalit Jain, the outgoing President of Bhopal Chambers of Commerce and Industry. He had filed  a review  petition in the High Court making a  prayer  to  recall  the order  of  8 October 2021  passed  in  W.P.  No.19501/2021 for holding the election to elect the new executive body of Bhopal Chambers.of Commerce and Industry on 14 November.

The petitioner submitted  before the single Judge High Court Bench of Justice Vishal Chahat that  direction  was  given by the High Court to  respondent  No.4  (Secretary) to  conduct  election  of Bhopal  Chambers  of  Commerce  and  Industries  strictly  following  COVID-19 protocol.  The petitioner submitted  that  respondent  No.4 – Mukesh  Sen – who was  Secretary  and  Election  Officer  of  Bhopal  Chambers  of  Commerce, was  impleaded  in  private  capacity  and  in  official  capacity. It  was also brought to the notice of the High Court by  counsel  for  Lalit Jain that  respondent  Mukesh Sen  had resigned.  However,  this was contradicted by the counsel appearing for the respondent and the Court was told that he had been forced  to  resign and that he has filed an FIR in this regard. The Court was informed  that  he  did  not  resign voluntarily.  

Qasim Ali, Counsel  appearing  for the petitioner submitted  that  since  direction  had been given  to  the Secretary/Returning Officer and  since  has  resigned, the  order of 8 October 2021  may  be  modified  and  direction  be  given  that  secretary  may be  appointed  so  that  election  could  be  conducted  fairly  and  smoothly. 

Ajay Gupta, the Counsel  appearing  for  respondents, who were  petitioners  in  the original writ  petition, submitted  that  review  petition  is  only  filed  to delay  the  election.  New  secretary  is  to  be  appointed  by  petitioner  i.e. president  which  wil  take  time.  Review  Petition only has been  filed  to  delay  the election  process.  It  was also submitted  that  part  of  election  process  is  already complete  and  now  only  voting  and  counting  is  to  be  done and that the petitioner deliberately  wants  to  delay  the  election  process.  
The Court was informed that three  assistants have already been appointed with majority decision of contesting candidates to  help  the  secretary  and for conduct  of  election  as  per  Bye-laws    No.2  of  the  year  1952  during meeting held on  23 October 2021. Therefore,  it was submitted, in  the absence  of  secretary,  these assistants  can  go  ahead  and  conduct the  election.  

Counsel  appearing  for  petitioner  submitted  that  if  direction  to  Mukesh Sen  is  modified  and  three  assistants  is  directed  to  complete  the  process  of election  then  he  has  no  objection.  It  was further submitted  that  petitioner  does not  want  to  delay  the  election. 

The HC order says that the  petitioner is expected to  cooperate  in  fair  and  smooth  conduct  of election.

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