The Madhya Pradesh High Court issued the direction to implead Panna district collector Sanjay Kumar Mishra as respondent by name following serious allegations into election to post of vice president of Janpad Panchayat Gunnour, Panna district.

The court order said “it is submitted that principles of natural justice were not followed. Collector Shri Sanjay Kumar Mishra, acted as a political agent of the Ruling Party. He did not act independently and Election Commission should have removed him from the post of District Returning Officer”.

“Since serious allegations have been made against the district collector respondent No.1, this Court directs to implead Sanjay Kumar Mishra, as a party by name”, the court order said.

Serious allegations have been made by Manoj Sharma, learned
Senior Advocate, assisted by Qazi Fakhruddin, Advocate, against the
respondent No.1, the court order said.

It is submitted that election to the post of Vice President,
Janpad Panchayat Gunnour, District Panna, took place on 27.7.2022, petitioner was declared elected as he had secured 13 votes out of 25 against private respondent Ram Siromani as is evident from Annx.P/1, issued by the Presiding Officer Shri Ram Niwas Choudhary, the court order said. Thereafter, a certificate under Rule 17 of M.P. Panchayat Nirvachan Niram, 1995, Annx.P/2 was issued by the Presiding Officer on 27.7.2022. On the same day, the Election Petition was filed by the lost candidate i.e. respondent No.3 before the prescribed Authority i.e. respondent No.1 and he decided the Election Petition filed under Section 122 of M.P. Panchayat Raj Avam Gram Swaraj Adhiniyam, 1993, on the same day, the court order said.

Justice Vivek Agrawal said Let notice be issued to the Collector to explain his conduct and also explain that why a recommendation be not made not to handover any sensitive matter like dealing with election petitions or conduct of elections in future and this recommendation be not forwarded to all the Constitutional Authorities like Election Commission of India or bodies like State Election Commission.

State Election Commission counsel Siddarth Seth, submits that since the order has been passed by the respondent No.1 in his capacity as Prescribed Authority, his undertaking may be noted that on 27.7.2022, Sanjay Kumar Mishra, Collector and Prescribed Authority, Janpad Panchayat District Panna, was not acting as Officer representing the District Election Officer or a Officer representing the State Election Commission or even the Returning Officer.