2017 Indian Presidential Election - Will BJP Candidate Ram Nath Kovind also face legal challenge like Rajendra Prasad, Pranab Mukherjee?
Bihar Governor Ram Nath Kovind, who has been chosen by Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) as NDA’s presidential nominee, may face Supreme Court’s test, if he is elected the next President of India. Despite having support of some Opposition parties, Ram Nath Kovind is unlikely to be elected ‘unopposed’ and his election may be challenged in the Supreme Court as well.
Only Neelam Sanjiva Reddy was elected to the highest office unopposed, but his election wa challenged in Supreme Court as well. All presidential elections, except three, were challenged in the apex court. However, all the please challenging the presidential elections were dismissed by the highest court.
The first President of India, Dr Rajendra Prasad, had to face Supreme Court’s test when he was nominated to the highest office for the second term. In 1957, NB Khare, who was defeated by Dr Rajendra Prasad, challenged the presidential election, alleging that the election was not conducted ‘properly’. The apex court, however, dismissed the petition rejecting Khare’s claim.
A film journalist named Baburao Patel challenged the election of Zakir Hussain. Patel alleged that then prime minister Indira Gandhi had exerted undue influence on the presidential election violating the vote by conscience mandated by the Presidential and Vice-Presidential Elections Act, 1952. However, the Supreme Court had rejected his plea saying that what he referred to as undue influence was canvassing, without which elections would not be possible in democracy.
In 1969, VV Giri became the President of India defeating Congress’s official presidential candidate N Sanjiva Reddy. A contestant, Shiv Kirpal Singh, challenged the election, accusing then prime minister Indira Gandhi of misusing her official position to influence the outcome. The apex court, however, sought a clarification from VV Giri, but eventually dismissed the plea.
The last presidential election which brought Pranab Mukherjee to the Rashtrapati Bhavan was also challenged in the Supreme Court. NDA’s nominee PA Sangma took the matter to the Supreme Court on the grounds of office of profit. Sangma argued that since Mukherjee held the post of the chairman of the Indian Statistical Institute in Kolkata, he was holding the office of profit at the time of filing his nomination for the presidential election. The Supreme Court, though, acknowledged that Pranab Mukherjee held the office of profit, but held that he did not gain any profit from that position and dismissed the case