A civil court in Vadodara has discharged 20 Congress leaders, including former MP Madhusudan Mistry, in a case filed against them during the campaigning for the 2014 Lok Sabha elections.
On April 3, 2014, Mistry, Congress candidate from Vadodara, climbed an electric pole in the city to pull down a kiosk advertising Narendra Modi as BJP’s prime ministerial candidate. Mistry and other leaders were booked for violating prohibitory orders, damaging public property and joining an unlawful assembly.
On Wednesday, the Vadodara court discharged Mistry and Congress leaders, including Narendra Ravat and Chandrakant Shrivastav, after lawyers argued that the suo motu complaint filed by the police on behalf of the Vadodara Municipal Corporation (VMC), alleging “damage to public property” had no locus standi.
Mistry was involved in a war of words with the District Election Officers as well as the BJP over the issue of “equitable opportunity” of campaign advertising for all candidates. Mistry and the Congress workers were protesting against the Election Commission’s refusal to allow them to put up kiosks on poles where Modi’s posters were put up by the BJP. Mistry climbed the pole outside the Congress office in Dandiya Bazar area of Vadodara to replace Modi’s poster with his own campaign material, tearing down the poster and damaging the kiosk in the process. Advocate Pravin Thakkar represented Congress leader Chandrakant Shrivastav, while senior advocate Kamal Pandya, Advocate Shailesh Amin and others represented Mistry and the other Congress leaders accused in the case.
Amin, who is also the vice-president of the party, said, “The kiosk frame was owned by Sujal Advertising Company and it was not a public property. The electric pole was not damaged. The contention that public property was damaged was false…” Amin added that since the government pleader has submitted that the VMC will now appeal against the order of the civil judge, the court has reserved its order until September 5, granting the VMC the stipulated 90 days to file its appeal.
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