Rightly or wrongly, EC has taken a call, says SC on Sushmita Dev’s plea

New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Wednesday refused to look into the factors leading to the Election Commission clearing Prime Minister Narendra Modi and BJP President Amit Shah of charges of allegedly violating the Model Code of Conduct in their speeches during the ongoing Lok Sabha poll campaign.

Dismissing the writ petition filed by Congress MP Sushmita Dev against Modi and Shah for breaching the code of conduct, a bench headed by Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi said: “The Election Commission has rightly or wrongly passed the orders on complaints… Go and challenge it, if you are still aggrieved.”

The court said that Dev initially moved the court alleging inaction by the poll body on the complaints against Modi and Shah. Later, when the EC passed its order, her plea termed these “non-speaking and unreasoned”.

Observing that it cannot see a way to go through the poll body’s orders with any specific challenge to them, the court termed her plea infructuous.

Senior advocate Rakesh Dwivedi, appearing for the Election Commission, contended that the panel has already passed the orders, and complainant, Congress spokesman Randeep Singh Surjewala, has informed of them.

He also objected to the additional affidavit filed by Dev on Tuesday, citing an attempt by the Congress MP to expand the issue.

Dev, through the additional affidavit, had tried to bring court’s attention on Modi’s remark against former PM Rajiv Gandhi as “Bhrashtachari number 1”.

As senior advocate Abhishek Manu Singhvi, appearing for Dev, told the court that the poll body had shied away from taking any action, and as a consequence, non-speaking orders were passed on Congress complaints, the court told him that these orders can be challenged separately.

Singhvi also mentioned that the additional affidavit was filed following court orders, and the response of the poll body on it indicates the delay on passing a decision on the complaint.

The court then said: “File independent Article 32 (writ) petitions. There are some norms we follow.” It told the petitioner that it can challenge the merits of the poll body order by filing a fresh plea.

In the additional affidavit filed before the court, Dev said that by making extremely derogatory comments on Rajiv Gandhi, Prime Minister Modi has “committed an act unbecoming of the high office he holds; made unprecedented obscene/ derogatory remarks in a speech on May 6 by referring to present Congress President Rahul Gandhi’s late father and former Prime Minster of India Rajiv Gandhi, in Pratapgarh, Uttar Pradesh”.

According to the affidavit, Modi allegedly said: “Your father may have been declared ‘Mr. Clean’ by his courtiers, but he died as ‘Bhrashtachari No. 1’. This arrogance will destroy you. This country forgives mistakes but never betrayal.”

The additional affidavit came a day after the court asked her to put on record the EC order giving a clean chit to Prime Minister Modi and Amit Shah.

The Congress also claimed the lack of transparency in the EC’s functioning, saying that dissent on record by one of the Election Commissioners has not been provided with the order.

“This demonstrates a complete lack of transparency and arbitrariness in decision-making process on complaints against Modi and Amit Shah,” it said in the affidavit.

It had also demanded that the speeches by Modi and Shah should be declared “corrupt practices” under Section 123A of the Representation of the People Act, 1951 as they “promote feeling of enmity and hatred between different classes of the citizens of India on grounds of religion”.

 Published on: May 8, 2019 at 21:00 IST


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