Apex court stays EC order scrapping Kamal Nath’s ‘star campaigner’ status

By: |
November 3, 2020 1:15 AM

A Bench led by Chief Justice SA Bobde said the EC had no power to determine who should be a ‘star campaigner’ of a political party. “How can you determine who is their leader? It’s their power not the EC’s power. We are staying the order,” the CJI said.

The EC had revoked Nath’s status citing repeated violations of the model code of conduct.The EC had revoked Nath’s status citing repeated violations of the model code of conduct.

The Supreme Court on Monday stayed the Election Commission of India’s (EC) order revoking Congress leader Kamal Nath’s ‘star campaigner’ status for Tuesday’s bypolls in Madhya Pradesh.

The EC had revoked Nath’s status citing repeated violations of the model code of conduct.

A Bench led by Chief Justice SA Bobde said the EC had no power to determine who should be a ‘star campaigner’ of a political party. “How can you determine who is their leader? It’s their power not the EC’s power. We are staying the order,” the CJI said.

“Where does EC have the power to determine who will be the leader of a party under Section 77 of Representation of People Act?” the bench asked senior counsel Rakesh Dwivedi, who was representing the commission.

Senior advocate Kapil Sibal, appearing for Nath, argued that the EC had issued an advisory on October 26, which was followed by the order on October 30 citing a complaint against Nath over his October 13 speech. He said the former MP chief minister was not heard before his “star campaigner” status was revoked.

The EC “order is illegal, arbitrary, unreasoned, passed in complete violation of basic canons of natural justice and in negation of fair play and therefore, deserves to be quashed”, Nath said in his plea.

He said the EC “has not taken equivalent action against repeated violation of MCC by leaders of BJP despite various representations by the Indian National Congress”.

The EC action against Nath was taken over two comments: calling Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan “mafia” and “milawat khor (someone who adulterates)” on October 13 and for calling BJP candidate Imarti Devi an “item” while campaigning for a Congress candidate.

The commission had said Nath had repeatedly “breached ethical and dignified behaviour.” It had earlier warned him over his “item” remark.

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