The Madhya Pradesh High Court today sought the Election Commission’s stand on a plea against the poll panel’s order disqualifying state minister Narottam Mishra. Mishra was disqualified by the poll watchdog on June 24 for three years for filing wrong accounts of his election expenditure during the assembly polls of 2008. His election from the Datia assembly constituency also stood void. Three days later, Mishra moved the Gwalior bench of the high court seeking a stay on the EC order. The bench of Justice Vivek Agrawal today issued notice to the poll panel seeking its reply to Mishra’s plea by July 5, EC’s lawyer D K Khatri told PTI.
“We urged the court to grant time for filing a reply on the matter, following which the bench asked us to file it by July 5,” he said. Mishra filed a plea in the high court seeking a stay on the EC order as well as its quashing, his lawyer M P S Raghuwanshi said. Rajendra Bharti of the Congress, who lost the 2008 MP assembly polls from Datia constituency to Mishra, a close aide of Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan, had moved the EC against the minister on April 4, 2009, seeking his disqualification under the Representation of the People Act, 1951. Mishra, the water resources and legislative affairs minister in the Shivraj Singh Chouhan government, had filed a writ petition before the Gwalior bench seeking relief against the EC order.
Congress spokesman and advocate J P Dhanopia, meanwhile, said, “Mishra has no right to remain in the Cabinet. As soon as the Election Commission passes an order under section 10A of the Representation of the People Act 1951, the seat of sitting MP/MLA becomes vacant forthwith on that very day, by operation of law.” “For such vacation of seat in the legislature on a person incurring disqualification under section 10A, no further order of any other authority is needed under the law and the legislature’s secretariat of the concerned House should issue the notification declaring the seat of the member concerned as vacant from the date of the Commission’s order,” he said.
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The Congress spokesman also rubbished Mishra’s claim that the order is not applicable to his 2013 assembly poll victory and was confined to 2008 polls alone. “The EC order has no ambiguity and is applicable even now and therefore either Mishra should immediately step down or the governor should sack him,” Dhanopia said. Dhanopia said the Congress would petition Governor O P Kohli on the issue this evening.