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Supreme Court: The bench headed by Ranjan Gogoi, JJ has rejected the plea of sacked BSF Jawan Tej Bahadur Yadav, challenging the Election Commission’s decision to reject his nomination papers from Varanasi Lok Sabha seat. It said,

“we do not find any grounds to entertain the plea of Yadav”.

Advocate Prashant Bhushan, appearing for Yadav, said, as per earlier verdict of the Supreme Court, the election petition can be filed during enforcement of the Model Code of Conduct.

Senior advocate Rakesh Dwivedi, appearing for the Election Commission, also referred to various Supreme Court judgments and said election petitions can only be filed after polls are over as it would vitiate the electoral process.

At the fag end of the hearing, Bhushan sought liberty from the court to file an election petition after polling is over.

“We have done what we could have done. We find no grounds to entertain this petition,”

Yadav, who was dismissed in 2017 after he posted a video online complaining about the food served to troops, was fielded by the Samajwadi Party as its candidate from the Varanasi seat. Prime Minister Narenda Modi is contesting from the Varanasi Lok Sabha seat.

Yadav, in his plea, had termed the decision of the poll panel discriminatory and unreasonable and had said it should be set aside.

(Source: PTI)

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Supreme Court: The 3-judge bench of Ranjan Gogoi, CJ and Deepak Gupta and Sanjiv Khanna, JJ dismissed a plea seeking direction to the Centre and the Election Commission to debar Congress President Rahul Gandhi from contesting Lok Sabha elections till the issue of his citizenship is decided.

The Court rejected the contention of the petitioners, who said that in a form along with the annual data of a UK-based company in 2005-06, it was allegedly mentioned that Rahul Gandhi is a British citizen. It said,

“If some company in some form mentions his nationality as British, does he become a British citizen.”

(Source: PTI)

Case BriefsSupreme Court

Supreme Court: The 3-judge bench of Ranjan Gogoi, CJ and Deepak Gupta and Sanjiv Khanna, JJ has directed all the political parties who have received donations through Electoral Bonds to submit,

  • detailed particulars of the donors as against each Bond;
  • the amount of each such bond and the full particulars of the credit received against each bond, namely, the particulars of the bank account to which the amount has been credited and the date of each such credit.

to the Election Commission of India in sealed cover by May 30, 2019.

The aforesaid direction was given in order to ensure that any interim arrangement that may be made would not tilt the balance in favour of either of the parties but that the same ensures adequate safeguards against the competing claims of the parties which are yet to be adjudicated.

In the matter that deals with a larger question involving transparency in political funding, the bench said

“the rival contentions give rise to weighty issues which have a tremendous bearing on the sanctity of the electoral process in the country. Such weighty issues would require an indepth hearing which cannot be concluded and the issues answered within the limited time that is available before the process of funding through the Electoral Bonds comes to a closure, as per the schedule noted earlier.”

The Ministry of Finance, Department of Economic Affairs by Notification dated 2.1.2018 in exercise of powers under Section 31(3) of the Reserve Bank of India Act had promulgated a scheme called ‘The Electoral Bond Scheme, 2018’ whereunder an ‘electoral bond’ has been defined as “a bond   issued in the nature of promissory note which shall be a bearer banking instrument and shall not   carry the name of the buyer or payee.” The other provisions of the Scheme deal with the banks authorized to issue and encash the Electoral Bonds; persons entitled to purchase such bonds and the procedure for making an application for purchase of bonds and encashment of the said bonds.

It was contended before the Court that the said scheme has affected transparency in political funding inasmuch as in the annual contribution reports of political parties to the Election Commission there need not be any mention of the identity of the donors who have contributed to the coffers of the political parties through Electoral Bonds.   This, in turn, is contended   to   affect   the   citizens’   right   to   know   about   the contributions made to various political parties and the source of such contribution.

Attorney General KK Venugopal, appearing for ECI, had contended that the said scheme has been introduced to deal with the menace of unaccounted money coming into the country’s economy through political funding. It is to do away with the aforesaid menace that the amendments to the different statutes had been brought by the Finance Act, 2016 and 2017 and the Electoral Bond Scheme has been introduced. He said,

“the implementation of the measures will be tested by the results obtained in the course of the on­going general elections and the success thereof will be known only after the elections are over. The government must be allowed a free hand to implement measures in execution of policies framed and therefore it is premature for the Court to render any opinion on the issues raised or to pass any order/orders in the matter for the present.”

[Association for Democratic Reforms v. Union of India, WRIT PETITION (CIVIL) NO. 333 OF 2015, decided on 12.04.2019]

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Supreme Court: The Court has eserved its order on a PIL challenging the government’s electoral bond scheme for political funding. The bench headed by Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi said it would pronounce its order tomorrow on the plea filed by NGO, Association of Democratic Reforms (ADR).

The NGO, which has challenged the validity of the scheme, has sought interim relief including that either the issuance of electoral bonds be stayed or the names of the donors be made public to ensure transparency in the poll process.

Attorney General K K Venugopal, appearing for the Centre, supported the scheme saying the purpose behind it is to eliminate the use of black money in elections. Adding that the court can scrutinize the scheme after elections, AG said

“So far as the electoral bond scheme is concerned, it is the matter of policy decision of the government and no government can be faulted for taking policy decision”

(Source: PTI)

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Supreme Court: The Court has agreed to hear on April 8 advocate Aman Panwar, spokesperson of the Congress’s plea seeking stay on release of a biopic on Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

Senior advocate A M Singhvi, appearing for petitioner advocate Aman Panwar, spokesperson of the Congress, said two High courts have refused to interfere with the release of the movie starring Vivek Oberoi.

The Indore bench of the Madhya Pradesh High Court had on Wednesday rejected a plea seeking ban on the release of the movie, ‘PM Narendra Modi’.  The Bombay High Court had also on Monday disposed of a plea seeking deferment of the release of the biopic, saying the Election Commission will deal with the issue.

Singhvi submitted that the release of the movie may affect free and fair election as mandated in the Constitution. He said the movie was slated to be released on April 5 but there were some media reports on Thursday which said the release has been deferred by a few days.

The Court will hear the matter on April 8.

(Source: PTI)

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Supreme Court: The Court has refused to accord urgent hearing to Congress leader Hardik Patel’s plea challenging the Gujarat High Court order rejecting stay on his conviction in the 2015 Vispur rioting case. The matter was mentioned for urgent listing before a bench of Arun Mishra, MM Shantanagoudar and Navin Sinha, JJ. The bench said:

“The order was passed in August 2018. What is the urgency now?”

Hardik Patel has moved the Supreme Court seeking suspension of his conviction in the case in which he was found guilty of rioting and arson during the Patidar quota stir  in 2015. Patel had moved the court challenging the order of the Gujarat High Court which had in August 2018 suspended his jail sentence but not the conviction. On Friday, the High Court had declined to cancel his conviction.

As per rules and the Representation of the People (RP) Act, a political candidate, who was convicted and facing a prison term of two years or more cannot contest the elections, unless the same is stayed by a court.

The 26-year-old, in his petition, claimed that he is a leader of the Patidar Andolan and started his agitation in 2015, and due to this, the ruling party of the state of Gujarat registered an FIR against him. His petition states:

“This registration of FIR and the action of the state government were mala fide and were with a view to suppress the voice of the masses,”

He further stated in his petition that in the present case, it was argued at length before the Gujarat High Court that there is no legal evidence against for conviction and the same is based on hearsay evidence. He says that the Court should urgently hear his petition because the last date and filing of the nomination papers for Lok Sabha elections 2019, is April 04. Patel, 25, had started preparations to contest from Jamnagar on a Congress ticket after joining the party on March 12.

A lower Court at Mehsana in Gujarat had sentenced the Patidar leader to two years’ imprisonment in 2018 July, for his involvement in rioting and arson in 2015, when during the Patidar quota protests.

(Source: PTI and ANI)

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Supreme Court: The 3-judge bench of Ranjan Gogoi, CJ and Sanjiv Khanna and Deepak Gupta, JJ has has asked 21 opposition parties to file response over the Election Commission’s affidavit in a case where the Parties sought direction that 50 per cent EVM results should be matched and cross-checked with Voter Verified Paper Audit Trails (VVPAT) before the declaration of results in the upcoming General Elections. The bench directed the 21 opposition parties (petitioners) to file a rejoinder to the affidavit of the poll panel before April 8.

On Friday, the Election Commission (EC) of India, in an affidavit, told the court that there is no need to increase VVPAT count to match it with EVM. It had said that the existing system is full-proof and more VVPAT  count means 6 days delay in the counting of votes in Lok Sabha election. The court had directed EC to file an affidavit on why physical verification of VVPATs should not be extended to more than one polling station per Assembly segment.

The court is hearing a plea filed by 21 opposition leaders led by Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister N Chandrababu Naidu, seeking a random count of VVPAT slips of at least 50 per cent EVMs in each Assembly constituency before the declaration of Lok Sabha election results. The petition has challenged the decision of the Commission to check VVPATs of only one randomly selected booth of a constituency. The petitioners have said that this will account only for 0.44 per cent of the votes polled.

(Source: ANI)

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Supreme Court: The Court has ssued a notice to the Election Commission regarding alleged non-implementation of the top court’s past order of publishing the criminal record of candidates in newspapers. The bench Rohinton Fali Nariman and Vineet Saran, JJ sought the Election Commission’s response within a week.

The contempt petition is filed by lawyer and BJP leader, Ashwini Upadhyay. Upadhyay, in his petition, claimed that the EC had allegedly failed to enforce the Court’s earlier order of September 25, 2018 that said that it is mandatory for candidates to publish in newspapers
about the pending criminal cases against them during their filing of nomination paper during the election.

Upadhyay, in his petition, claimed that the ECI had allegedly failed to ensure the disclosure of criminal antecedents and the Central government has not made a law to debar criminals from contesting the elections.

Seven phase elections in the country will begin on April 11 and conclude on May 19. Counting of votes will take place on May 23.

(Source: ANI)


Also read:

Candidates with criminal antecedents| Parliament has exclusive jurisdiction to lay down disqualification for membership; Court cannot legislate: SC

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Supreme Court: The Election Commission of India (ECI) has told the bench of S A Bobde and S A Nazeer, JJ that it will hold by-elections on vacant assembly seats of Tiruparankundram, Ottapidaram and Aravakurichi in Tamil Nadu within a reasonable time. The Court was hearing a plea filed by the DMK seeking a direction to the poll panel for holding the by-elections on these three vacant assembly seats.

The bench, while taking on record the submissions of the ECI’s counsel, disposed of the petition and observed that the court cannot determine the timing of elections and it was for the poll panel to decide.

The counsel appearing for the Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK) had earlier told the apex court that there are 21 vacant assembly seats in Tamil Nadu but the poll panel has notified by-polls for only 18 seats. He had said that by-polls on 18 vacant seats are scheduled to be held on April 18 along with the Lok Sabha polls in the state. It was argued that ECI should be asked to hold the by-elections on the remaining three assembly seats along with the general elections.

On March 15, the Court had asked the ECI to respond to the DMK’s plea seeking by-polls for Tiruparankundram, Ottapidaram and Aravakurichi assembly constituencies. The poll panel had earlier told the court that the by-polls for three assembly seats were not announced as some election petitions were pending in the Madras High Court.

(Source: PTI)