The Delhi High Court on Sunday refused to allow Madhya Pradesh Cabinet Minister Narottam Mishra — disqualified by the EC for not disclosing money spent on paid news in 2008 assembly elections — to participate in the July 17 Presidential poll. A Division Bench of Justice Muralidhar and Justice Pratibha Singh rejected Mishra’s application that challenged a single-judge bench’s order to dismiss his plea to vote in the Presidential poll.
The single-judge bench had on Friday also dismissed his plea that challenged his disqualification by the Election Commission (EC) on June 23 for not disclosing expenses he incurred on paid news in his election expenditure returns and barred him from contesting elections for three years.
The Supreme Court on Wednesday directed Mishra to move the Delhi High Court after he failed to get any interim relief from the Madhya Pradesh High Court.
The Minister had moved the apex court to seek an urgent hearing of his plea either by the High Court or the apex court itself, so that he could participate in the July 17 election.
The top court, in its order, said that the outcome of the case has an “important bearing” on whether Mishra would continue to be a member of the assembly and vote in the Presidential election.
Narottam Mishra is Legislative Affairs Minister and the Madhya Pradesh assembly session is starting from July 17, with voting in the Presidential election scheduled for the day.
The Election Commission, while disqualifying Mishra for not disclosing expenditure incurred on paid news in local media during the 2008 assembly elections, had said that it was concerned about the “menace of paid news” which has been assuming “alarming proportions” in the electoral landscape.
The EC order said that all the 42 news items that had appeared in five Hindi dailies were “extremely biased in favour of” Mishra.
This phenomenon, a manifestation of the “pernicious effect of money in elections”, has been growing increasingly vicious and “spreading like cancer” in recent times, the EC observed.
The EC order disqualifying Mishra came on a complaint filed in 2009 by Congress legislator Rajender Bharti, who had unsuccessfully contested against Mishra from the Datia assembly constituency.