The Supreme Court on Tuesday took note of the action initiated by the Election Commission of India (EC) against BSP chief Mayawati, Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister and senior BJP leader Yogi Adityanath, Union minister and BJP candidate from Sultanpur Lok Sabha constituency Maneka Gandhi, and Samajwadi Party candidate from Rampur Azam Khan for remarks allegedly in violation of the election model code of conduct and said that the poll panel seems to have “woken up” to its powers.
“It seems the Election Commission has got its powers back…. So you have woken up to your powers,” a bench of Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi and Justice Sanjeev Khanna observed.
The bench said that no further orders are necessary at this stage on a plea seeking direction to the EC to take action against leaders for speeches on ground of religion, caste, etc flouting the model code.
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“Pursuant to the order passed yesterday, the Election Commission has taken action, as has been considered appropriate, details of which have been intimated to the Court by C A Sundaram, learned senior counsel. In that view of the matter, no further orders would be called for today,” the court said in its order.
The bench also declined to entertain Mayawati’s grievance against the EC directive barring her from campaigning for two days and told senior advocate Dushyant Dave, who appeared for the BSP chief, that she could challenge the EC order by filing appropriate appeal.
Dave termed the EC order as “extremely drastic” and cited shortage of time to appeal in view of the elections, but the bench did not relent.
The court allowed senior advocate Sanjay Hegde, appearing for the petitioner, Harpreet Mansukhani, to raise the issue in future, if necessary. “The counsel for the petitioner will be at liberty to mention the matter as and when such necessity arises,” the court stated.
On Monday, the court had questioned the EC over action against political leaders for alleged violation of the model code through their speeches. The EC replied that its power is “circumscribed to issuing of notice and upon consideration of the reply, to issue advisories.” The poll panel added that “only in case of repeated violation” it has the “power to file an FIR with the Police for initiation of criminal proceedings”. This did not go down well with the court, which said it will examine the EC’s powers in this regard on Tuesday.