The Delhi High Court today sought the Election Commission’s (EC) response on Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal’s plea against its order to lodge an FIR against him for his bribery remarks during the Goa assembly polls in January this year.
Justice Indermeet Kaur asked the EC to indicate its stand on Kejriwal’s petition which alleged that the poll panel’s January 29 order curtailed his right to free speech. The court listed the matter for further hearing on February 2 next year. The judge, during the hearing, observed that Kejriwal has come to the court very late against the poll panel’s decision and asked whether he was “being casual about it”.
The poll panel’s lawyer orally informed the court that an FIR was lodged on January 30 as per the EC’s directions. The EC by its January 29 order had directed the Chief Electoral Officer of Goa to lodge an FIR against Kejriwal for his remarks about bribes made at poll rallies in the state on January 7-8. During his series of rallies in Goa between January 7-8, Kejriwal had appealed to voters to “accept money from the Congress and BJP candidates but vote for the AAP.”
BJP had filed two complaints against Kejriwal seeking his prosecution under various sections of Indian Penal Code for asking voters to accept money. Congress too had condemned his statement. The poll panel had, thereafter, directed that a complaint be lodged against the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) leader under the provisions of the Representation of the People Act dealing with bribing voters and relevant sections of the IPC.
The AAP leader’s lawyer contended in the high court that the January 29 direction of the poll panel was like a gag order against him. The Commission had earlier also censured Kejriwal for violating the provisions of the Model Code of Conduct, he said.