Modi safe in saddle: Poll petition dismissed

KT NEWS SERVICE. Dated: 11/25/2020 12:33:52 PM

NEW DELHI, Nov 24: Prime Minister Narendra Modi is safe in the saddle. A petition filed by ex-BSF soldier Tej Bahadur Yadav, challenging his election to the Lok Sabha last year from Varanasi was on Tuesday dismissed by the Supreme Court.
A Bench of Chief Justice Sharad Arvind Bobde and Justices A S Bopanna and V Ramasubramanian, which had reserved the judgement last Wednesday, dismissed the appeal, saying it sees no merit in it and did not consider it necessary to issue notice to the respondent (Modi). It held that "the election petition has been rightly nipped in the bud."
It is another matter that Modi took the challenge seriously as he had engaged senior advocate Harish Salve, one of the topmost lawyers in the country, and additional solicitor general Satyapal Jain, an MP from Chandigarh twice and a member of the BJP executive, to defend him in the case.
Tej Bahadur was dismissed from service on April 19, 2017 by the BSF, after he failed to substantiate his public charge on the poor quality of food served by the forces. He was nominated by the Samajwadi Party to contest the election.
The top court had earlier refused to entertain his petition against rejection of his nomination papers in May last year and the Allahabad High Court dismissed his petition in December, leading to his appeal in the Apex Court in February.
In the last hearing, the Court refused to keep the petition pending indefinitely since it concerns the most important office. His counsel had sought adjournments and pass overs many times during the hearing. "We have already adjourned it many times. This is an important case which revolves around the unique office of the Prime Minister. We cannot keep it pending indefinitely," the CJI had said on Wednesday.
In its 13-page verdict, with references to the past judgments, the Bench quoted Salve arguing that the ex-soldier cannot claim any manner of right since it is up to the discretion of the returning officer to give time to file the missing documents sought from him.
His nominations on April 24 and 29 last year were rejected by the returning officer on May 1 as "invalid" on the ground that they were not accompanied by a certificate from the BSF that he has not been dismissed for corruption or disloyalty to the state as mandatory under the Act. The Court noted that this had a direct bearing on the question whether he is a candidate and has a right to question the election.
The Bench rejected his counsel's claim that he was not given time to produce the required certificate, agreeing with Salve that he had not demanded any time. It held that such a right was not denied to him, particularly since that he "neither possessed
the required certificate on the date of the filing the nomination, at the time of scrutiny, on the next day but one following the date fixed for scrutiny or even at the time of the filing the Election Petition."
The Court discussed at length why Yadav was not a duly nominated as a candidate, giving various citations, while upholding the verdict of the Allahabad High Court's single-judge bench of Justice Mohan Kumar Gupta that he is neither an elector or a candidate in the election and as such has no locus to file the election petition. The High Court judge also held that it is a condition for a valid nomination of a person, who has been dismissed from the government service, that the nomination paper must be accompanied by a certificate that he has not been dismissed for corruption or disloyalty to the State.
The Bench held that Section 83 of the Representation of People's Act allows only an elector or candidate to maintain as election petition, barring any other person, noting that he was neither a registered elector from Varanasi since he was an elector from Bhiwani in Mahendragarh Parliamentary constituency in Haryana, nor can he claim locus on the ground that he was a duly nominated candidate.



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