Narendra Modi
Narendra Modi
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Delhi High Court directs Election Commission to hear complaint against Modi’s election expenses

Smrithi Suresh

The Delhi High Court today directed the Election Commission (EC) to look into a complaint filed against Prime Minister Narendra Modi. The complaint alleged that Modi had submitted “incorrect poll expenses” during his election campaign for the Lok Sabha Elections of 2014.

The direction came following a petition filed by Rajesh Mishra and Congress MP from Varanasi Prajapati Nath, through advocate KC Mittal. The petition stated that while Modi declared that around 32 lakhs were sent on the Varanasi campaign, the actual figure was above 70 lakhs.

The petition also sought the disqualification of Modi as an MP and directed the attention of the Bench to the pendency of complaint made by them over the same issue, before a poll panel since June.

While hearing arguments, Justice RS Endlaw questioned Mittal as to what specific provision of the Conduct of Elections Rules, 1961 had been violated. Justice Endlaw also remarked that the petitioner(s) may ‘have jumped the gun’ by filing the petition, after the Counsel for the Election Commission submitted before the Court that the EC was duly seized of the matter and would hear the complaint.

Let (the EC) take a decision over it and if you’re still aggrieved, you can come here again. They are willing to listen to the issue. Just because the PM’s name is involved, we cannot drag this matter here indefinitely.”

Responding to the Bench, Mittal submitted that as per the Supreme Court’s  judgment in Ashok Shankarrao,  the EC had to follow a certain procedure a  while dealing with similar complaints. Mittal claimed that this had not been done in the instant case.

Mittal also argued that poll panel  had simply “sat on” his complaint, adding that the EC should take immediate action on complaints of such serious nature.

“I don’t want to make a political issue of this but had it been someone else, by now things would have moved. Judicial intervention is needed in this case.”

On this argument, Justice Endlaw observed that these were serious comments against the Commission.

“It is wrong to make such allegations against the Election Commission. It is a constitutional office and they have had a fantastic record (of conducting elections).”

Pursuant to directing the EC, the Bench also noted in its order that the Petitioner possessed liberty to ‘agitate on the same grounds if they remain aggrieved’ and disposed of the petition.

Image taken from here.

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