Monday, December 11, 2023

Election Commission freezing party symbol of Shiv Sena: Delhi High Court reserves verdict on Uddhav Thackeray’s challenge to previous order

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Delhi HIgh Court reserves order on Uddhav Thackeray’s challenge to Election Commission freezing party symbol of Shiv Sena 

The High Court of Delhi on Thursday decided to reserve its judgment on a petition filed by former Maharashtra Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray challenging the Single-Judge order, which rejected his plea against the Election Commission of India (ECI) deciding to freeze the party symbol of Shiv Sena.

The Division Bench of Chief Justice Satish Chandra Sharma and Justice Subramonium Prasad observed that they will pass an appropriate order in the matter.

On October 8 this year, the Election Commission had directed the two factions headed by Uddhav Thackeray and Eknath Shinde not to use the name ‘Shiv Sena’ or symbol ‘bow and arrow’ till their rival claims for the official recognition were finally decided.

For the recent Andheri East bypoll, the party factions were allotted different symbols.

Representing the Thackeray faction, Senior Advocate Kapil Sibal contended that Uddhav was primarily aggrieved by an observation of the Single-Judge Bench, which observed that the preliminary objection regarding the maintainability of ‘dispute petition’ before the Commission would be examined by the EC on its own merits.

He added that this observation should not bind the Commission.

As per the Counsel, the Delhi High Court verdict was erroneous and liable to be set aside. Sibal apprised the court that since the stay on proceedings before the ECI was rejected by the Supreme Court, the proceedings were ongoing and would be heard next on January 10.

Sibal mentioned the Election Symbols (Reservation and Allotment) Order, stating that going by the order, it was important for a party to be heard before a freezing order is passed.

He further said that a freezing order has never been passed in the history of the commission, without hearing the party. This was a first in the country, he added.
On November 15, the Single-Judge Bench of Justice Narula Sanjeev had directed the ECI to adjudicate the pending dispute as expeditiously as possible, keeping in view the interest of both the parties and also the public.

The High Court had taken note of the urgency qua allotment of symbols by ECI owing to announcement of schedule of be-elections and made the directions for freezing.

(Case title: Uddhav Thackeray vs The Election Commision of Iindia & Anr)

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