Former Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Kamal Nath has moved the Supreme Court against the Election Commission’s revocation of his “star campaigner” status for the forthcoming Madhya Pradesh bypolls.
In his plea, the state Congress chief said the poll body’s October 30 order, “based on a complaint by Bhartiya Janata Party against a speech delivered on 13.10.2020”, was passed without any notice or hearing to him. On October 13, Nath had termed Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan “mafia” and “milawat khor”.
In his plea filed through Advocate Varun K Chopra, Nath said the EC had issued a notice to him on October 21, after a complaint by the BJP, for allegedly violating the Model Code of Conduct at a rally in Dabra, Gwalior, on October 18. It was this day that Nath had made the controversial “item” remark against former Congress MLA Imarti Devi, who is now a BJP minister and the saffron party candidate from Dabra seat.
Nath told the Supreme Court that he replied to this EC notice on October 22. He said the commission then accorded him a hearing before passing orders on October 26, “advising” him not to use such words during campaigning.
The senior Congress leader contended that the EC: “had already passed an Order dated 26.10.2020 qua an instance dated 18.10.2020 and therefore, punishing” him “for the same instance is completely in teeth of principles of fair play and res judicata (matter already decided by a competent court and hence not subject to litigation pursued by same parties again)”.
The EC order says: “…for repeated violation of Model Code of Conduct and for completely disregarding the advisory issued to him, the Commission hereby revokes the status of leader of political party (Star Campaigner) of Kamal Nath…”
Nath’s plea said that this “order is illegal, arbitrary, unreasoned, passed in complete violation of basic canons of natural justice and in negation of fairplay and therefore, deserves to be quashed.”
He added that the EC “has not taken equivalent action against repeated violation of MCC by leaders of Bhartiya Janata Party despite various representations by the Indian National Congress”.
Advocate Chopra said he has sought an urgent hearing in the matter.
Having the star campaigner tag means that it is the political party that foots the bill for expenditure incurred during canvassing, rather than a candidate.
Bypolls to 28 Assembly seats in Madhya Pradesh will be held on November 3.
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