Sunday, January 29, 2023

Supreme Court reserves order on petition against PM Modi’s election from Varanasi

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New Delhi (ILNS): The Supreme Court today reserved its order on a petition challenging the election of Prime Minister Narendra Modi from the Varanasi constituency in last year’s Lok Sabha elections. The bench headed by Chief Justice S. A. Bobde and also comprising Justices A. S. Bopanna and V. Ramasubramanian, heard the petition filed by former Border Security Force (BSF) constable, Tej Bahadur.

Earlier Tej Bahadur had filed a petition before the Allahabad High Court, but the high court had thrown his petition out. While dismissing his petition the high court held that Tej Bahadur could not question the election of PM Modi since he (Tej Bahadur) was neither a candidate nor an elector from the said constituency.

Thereafter he approached the Supreme Court challenging the Allahabad High Court order. Tej Bahadur had at first filed his nomination as an independent candidate from Varanasi Constituency. However, later he entered his nomination as a Samajwadi Party candidate.

He was terminated from service after a video went viral where he exposed cheap quality of food being served to the forces. Since Bahadur could not produce a certificate from the Election Commission clarifying that that his dismissal was not on ground of disloyalty or corruption, his nomination was rejected by the Returning Officer.

Today, the counsel for the petitioner (Tej Bahadur) said that a letter has been circulated for adjournment.

The bench, however, said that enough time had been granted and there shall be no adjournment now. The bench further said that it had asked the petitioner to annex the certificate, but that has yet to be done. The bench said that whether his nomination had been rejected properly or improperly depends upon the qualification of the candidate.

The counsel for the petitioner again submitted that when an appointment is rejected by the returning officer, sufficient time has to be given to the candidate. He said that he was not given enough time to obtain a certificate from the Election Commission.

Senior Advocate Harish Salve, is opposing the petition.

The Chief Justice said:

“It’s a unique office of the PM and we don’t want to carry on like this. You are abusing the process of law. You are supposed to annex the certificate of nomination here. What is the problem?”

The counsel for the petitioner repeated that he (his client) had filed his nomination as an Independent candidate, but the returning officer stayed his nomination process. He said that his nomination was rejected and there was no time allowed to rectify.

The CJI said: “Whether a nomination was properly rejected or not has to be decided accordingly, and as per the qualification of the particularly candidate.

Salve said that Tej Bahadur filed two applications, one as an independent candidate and the other as a candidate of the Samajwadi Party. In one he said it has been dismissed and in one he said it has not been dismissed (from service). So the returning officer finally dismissed the appointment.

Salve also pointed out that he (Tej Bahadur) had to go to the Election Commission to obtain the certificate but he did not ask for time (appointment).

The CJI asked the petitioner to show when he sought for time to obtain the certificate.

To that the counsel for the petitioner said that he had written a letter to the returning officer seeking time to obtain the certificate from the returning officer.

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The bench said it was not concerned with that, but wanted to know whether he had argued this point before the High Court. We want clear evidence where you sought time in HC, asked CJI.

The bench overruled a plea for a Passover from the counsel of the petitioner and reserved its order.

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