THE RIGHT to contest an election from jail does not give anyone the right to be released for campaigning, the Delhi High Court on Monday said while rejecting custody parole to Mau MLA Mukhtar Ansari to canvass for himself in the UP polls. Ansari, a four-time MLA who recently joined BSP, was given custody parole by a trial court on February 16 till March 4, enabling him to campaign in the election. In jail since 2005 in BJP MLA Krishnanand Rai’s murder case, Ansari is an accused in more than 40 criminal cases.
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“A right to contest the election cannot imply that the candidate gets a right to be released from jail for canvassing as a candidate for being elected. If the candidate is in custody for an alleged offence, it would be the discretion of the court to release him or not, depending on the facts and circumstances of the case,” Justice Mukta Gupta observed in the 23-page order.
“When a person in custody fills up nomination as a candidate, he does not get a vested right to be released for canvassing. He runs the risk of not released on bail to contest election from custody,” he added.
The high court was hearing an appeal by the Election Commission against the February 16 order of a Delhi trial court that had allowed Ansari to campaign for himself from 7 am to 8 pm till 4 March, when the constituency goes for polls. The trial court order was stayed by the high court next day itself, after the EC sought cancellation of his parole on the ground that Ansari may influence witnesses in the Rai murder case.