Delhi High Court dismisses Samata Party appeal against EC decision to allot flaming torch symbol to Uddhav Thackeray faction

Samata Party was initially formed in 1994 by former defence and railway minister George Fernandes and Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar. It is now led by Uday Mandal.
Shiv Sena, Samata Party
Shiv Sena, Samata Party

The Delhi High Court on Thursday dismissed an appeal by Samata Party against Election Commission's (EC) allotment of 'mashal' symbol (flaming torch) to Uddhav Thackeray led Shiv Sena faction - 'Shiv Sena (Uddhav Balasaheb Thackeray) party'.

A Division Bench of Chief Justice Satish Chandra Sharma and Justice Subramonium Prasad dismissed the plea and upheld the order of a single-judge who had earlier dismissed the plea.

The court said that a detailed order will soon follow.

Samata Party was initially formed in 1994 by former defence and railway minister George Fernandes and Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar. It is now led by Uday Mandal.

The party was an offshoot of the Janata Dal and it largely merged with Janata Dal (United) in 2003. However, some of the leaders continued with the Samata Party name and symbol. It was finally derecognised by the Election Commission in 2004 and lost the symbol.

The flaming torch symbol was assigned to Thackeray's faction by the Election Commission earlier this month. His party will be contesting the Andheri East by-elections on the same symbol.

Samata Party came to court last month arguing that even though it was derecognised in 2004, the symbol was allotted to the party for the general elections held in 2014.

However, single-judge Justice Sanjeev Narula dismissed the plea holding that the party had failed to prove any demonstrable right over the symbol in question since it lost its status as a 'recognised party' in the year 2004.

The judge had noted that if the party had any right over the symbol, it would have also lapsed after expiry of six years as per Section 10(A) of the Election Symbols (Reservation and Allotment) Order.

The judge added that even if the party contested elections on the same symbol in 2014, it does not give it any semblance of vested right in the symbol.

"In absence of any right demonstrable before this court, the petitioner cannot seek the mandamus for quashing the impugned (ECI) communication," the Court said in its order.

Justice Narula also rejected Samata Party's argument that a notification ought to have been issued by the ECI stating that the flaming torch is a free symbol.

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