The Gujarat High Court has framed six issues in an election petition filed by BJP leader Balvantsinh Rajput challenging veteran Congress leader Ahmed Patel’s election to the Rajya Sabha from the state in 2017. Justice Bela Trivedi framed the issues on Friday. The court will hear the case next on January 18.
The issues framed by the court include whether Patel or his election agent committed an act of “bribery” and “undue influence” and thereby indulged in “corrupt practices” as alleged by Rajput, making the election “liable to be declared as void”.
Some of the other issues are whether two “invalid votes” cast by Congress MLAs Shailesh Parmar and Miteshbhai Garasia, and “improper refusal or rejection” of votes cast by rebel Congress MLAs Bholabhai Gohil and Raghvjibhai Patel materially affected the outcome of the election.
The issue also concerns the Election Commission of India (ECI) order as to whether it was “being violative of the principles of natural justice, without any authority of law”.
The issues have been framed under various sections of the Representation of the People Act, 1951. Earlier this month, the Supreme Court had asked Ahmed Patel to face trial in connection with his election to the Rajya Sabha.
He had then moved the apex court challenging the high court order, which had dismissed his plea questioning the maintainability of Rajput’s election petition. Patel had contended that the poll panel’s decision could not be challenged by an election petition.
The apex court had on September 26 asked the Gujarat HC to decide afresh Patel’s plea challenging the maintainability of the petition filed by Rajput. The high court had dismissed Patel’s plea in October.
Rajput had filed the petition in the high court after Patel was declared as winner by the Election Commission in the election to the Upper House of the Parliament held in 2017.