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Supreme Court: Refusing to acknowledge the claim of the TTV Dhinakaran-led faction over ‘pressure cooker’ as common election symbol, the Court has directed the Election Commission (EC) to consider granting common free election symbol to the candidates of the Dhinakaran-led faction for the upcoming Lok Sabha polls and assembly by-elections in Tamil Nadu and Puducherry. The Court that the said direction was passed to ensure level-playing field and free and fair elections.

The 3-judge bench of Ranjan Gogi, CJ and Deepak Gupta and Sanjiv Khanna, JJ also made it clear that its order asking the EC to consider granting common election symbol would not amount to granting recognition to his faction as a political group and its candidates would be treated as Independents for all practical purposes. It said that it was the duty and the rights of the Election Commission only to consider granting registration to Dhinakaran’s outfit as a political party and it will be done in due course by the poll panel.

(Source: PTI)

Case BriefsHigh Courts

Delhi High Court: Indermeet Kaur, J refused to interfere with the Election Commission’s order dated 17.11.2017, wherein it was held that the group led by Nitish Kumar has demonstrated overwhelming majority support in the legislature wing as well as the majority in the National Council of the Party and hence, it should be recognised as the Janata Dal (United) [JD(U)] and hence,  entitled to use the reserved symbol ‘Arrow’ of the Party as a recognised State Party in Bihar.

The JD(U) battle over the Election symbol, that arose after Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar ended his ‘Mahagathbandhan’ i.e. the alliance with the non-BJP parties and decided to join hands with BJP, had intensified in the light of the upcoming Gujarat elections. JD(U) member and Gujarat MLA Chhotubhai Amarsang Vasava had challenged the EC order before the High Court.

Chamber 20A, that represented Nitish Kumar, told us that the Court accepted the submission that the writ was not maintainable under Article 329 of the Constitution and hence, refused to interfere with the short order of the EC. The Court said that it correctly relies upon the ruling in Sadiq Ali v. Election Commission of lndia, (1972) 4 SCC 664. The detailed order of the EC will be pronounced on 27.11.2017. [Chhotubhai Amarsang Vasava v. Election Commission of India, W.P.(C) 10395/2017, order dated 23.11.2017]

Case BriefsTribunals/Commissions/Regulatory Bodies

Election Commission of India: Settling the controversy that arose after Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar ended his ‘Mahagathbandhan’ i.e. the alliance with the non-BJP parties and decided to join hands with BJP, the Election Commission of India (EC) held that the group led by Nitish Kumar has demonstrated overwhelming majority support in the legislature wing as well as the majority in the National Council of the Party and hence, it should be recognised as the Janata Dal (United) [JD(U)] in terms of Paragraph-‘l5 of the Symbols Order. EC also said that JD(U) was entitled to use the reserved symbol ‘Arrow’ of the Party as a recognised State Party in Bihar.

The corum of Chief Election Commissioner A.K. Joti, along with Election Commissioners Sunil Arora and OP Rawat, was hearing the application filed by Chhotubhai Amarsang Vasava wherein he had alleged that the alliance of the group led by Nitish Kumar with BJP was against the principles of the Party and that his group should be allotted the ‘Arrow’ symbol. The matter was heard on urgent basis in the light of the upcoming Gujarat Legislative Assembly Elections.

Senior Advocate Kapil Sibal, appearing for Chhotubhai Vasava, submitted that the Commission should look into the numerical strength of the National Council of the Party, as constituted in 2013, and which consisted of 1098 members, and who attended the National Convention of the Party on 23-04-2016. On the other hand, Senior Advocate Rakesh Dwivedi, appearing for Nitish Kumar, submitted that the present strength the National Council of the Party consisted of 195 members as reconstituted on the basis of the organizational elections held in October,2016, out of which 138 members had filed individual affidavits showing support to the Nitish Kumar led group.

Applying the principle of test of majority support in the organisational and legislative wings laid down by Supreme Court in Sadiq Ali v. Election Commission of lndia, (1972) 4 SCC 664,  EC recognised Nitish Kumar led group as JD(U) and allowed it to use the symbol ‘Arrow’ in the upcoming Gujarat Elections. [Chhotubhai Amarsang Vasava v. Nitish Kumar, Dispute Case No. 5 of 2017, order dated 17.11.2017]

Case BriefsSupreme Court

Supreme Court: In the controversy relating to right to the symbol allocated by the Election Commission of India to the AIADMK, the 3-judge bench of Dipak Misra, CJ and AM Khanwilkar and Dr DY Chandrachud, JJ asked the Election Commission of India to commence the hearing and dispose of the proceedings expeditiously, preferably by 10th November, 2017.

TTV Dinakaran, the petitioner, had claimed that he is authorised to have the symbol and the contesting respondents claim to the contrary. Senior counsel Ashok Desai, appearing for the petitioner had argued that a number of affidavits have been filed by the respondents and therefore, time is required to advert to the same and further it is necessary to refute the same. On the contrary, Senior Counsel Mukul Rohatgi, appearing for the respondents had argued that the affidavits have been filed on the basis of the directions issued by the Election Commission of India.

Refusing to go into the veracity of the affidavits, thee Court said that the Election Commission has the authority under the Representation of People’s Act, 1951 and Election Symbols (Reservation and Allotment) Order, 1968 to decide who is entitled to retain the symbol in case of dispute. [TTV Dinakaran v. B. Ramkumar Adityan, 2017 SCC OnLine SC 1199, order dated 06.10.2017]