August 4, 2017 5:51:45 pm
The Delhi High Court on Friday declined to give an early hearing to Madhya Pradesh minister Narottam Mishra’s plea against an Election Commission (EC) order disqualifying him on charges of paid news. A bench of Justices Hima Kohli and Deepa Sharma said the matter will be heard on the date already fixed — August 28.
The plea for an early hearing was moved by Congress leader Rajendra Bharti on whose complaint the poll panel’s June 23 order disqualifying Mishra had come.
The EC’s order had held him guilty of filing wrong accounts of election expense relating to articles and advertorials in the media during the 2008 Assembly polls in which Bharti had contested against Mishra.
Bharti had sought an early hearing of the matter on the ground that the Supreme Court had on July 28 while keeping in abeyance the poll panel’s order, requested the Delhi High Court to expeditiously hear his appeal preferably within two weeks.
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The apex court’s order had come after Mishra went in appeal against the high court’s July 16 decision dismissing his plea for an interim stay of its single judge’s July 14 order upholding the EC’s decision.
The BJP leader had sought an interim stay as a last ditch attempt to vote in the July 17 presidential election. He could not cast his ballot in the election.
The single judge bench had on July 14 said that according to the provisions of the Representation of the People Act, the disqualification of a candidate has to be from the date of the order.
The BJP leader had contended before the high court that the EC’s order disqualifying him pertained to an election in 2008 and that his subsequent tenure from 2013 would remain unaffected.
The matter had first reached the high court after the apex court on July 12 had transferred the matter to it to be decided expeditiously before the July 17 presidential poll.
Mishra had contested the EC’s decision on the grounds of delay in proceedings and that no evidence showed he had authorised paid news articles.
While disqualifying him from contesting elections for three years, the poll panel had used some strong words against paid news, calling it a “cancerous menace” that was assuming “alarming proportions” in the electoral landscape.
Mishra, who won from Datia Assembly constituency, was the minister for water resources and public relations and the chief spokesperson of the Shivraj Singh Chouhan government.
The poll panel order had said that all the 42 news items that had appeared in five Hindi dailies were “extremely biased in favour of” Mishra.
It had said that its findings had also strengthened the conclusion that he had “knowingly participated or took advantage of the expenditure on such advertisements” that had appeared as news in the publications.
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