Millennium Post

Guj RS poll: HC orders removal of EC as respondent from plea

Ahmedabad: The Gujarat High Court on Tuesday ordered BJP leader Balwantsinh Rajput to drop the Election Commission as a respondent from his petition challenging the election of senior Congress leader Ahmed Patel to the Rajya Sabha last year from the state.
The bench of Justice Bela Trivedi also asked Rajput to amend his petition and and remove the prayer which challenged the EC order invalidating two votes which led his defeat in the polls to the Upper House of Parliament.
The court, however, said the petitioner may challenge the EC order invalidating the two votes during the arguments.
Rajput has challenged the election of Congress leader Ahmed Patel to the Rajya Sabha in the August 2017 polls.
Patel's lawyer Kapil Sibal also moved an application today seeking dismissal of Rajput's petition on the ground that his client was not served its "true copy", which was against the rules governing the election petition.
He said the copy of the petition served upon his client was not properly attested, was blank at some places, and the procedures required under the high court rule were not followed.
Sibal had earlier sought removal of EC as a respondent from the petition besides dropping of the prayers challenging the validity of the EC order.
During the last hearing, he had told the court that the EC cannot be made a party to the petition, as per provisions of the Representation of People's Act, 1951. Rajput's lawyer Nirupam Nanavati had argued in favour of impleading the Election Commission, saying if the EC, whose order has been challenged, is not made a respondent, it won't be appropriate as the EC's order affected the outcome of the election. Rajput had lost the last year's Rajya Sabha election to Patel after the EC passed an order invalidating the votes of former Congress MLAs Raghavjee Patel and Bholabhai Gohel over flouting of the rules for conduct of the poll. The EC had invalidated the votes on a complaint by Congress polling agent Shaktisinh Gohil, paving the way for Patel's victory. In his plea, Rajput demanded that EC's order be set aside as it was "patently illegal and void ab initio (from the very beginning)".
He contended that once the Returning Officer (RO) had exercised his discretion and accepted the two votes, the EC had no power or jurisdiction to hear any appeal against it.
Rajput also claimed that two Congress MLAs who voted for Patel had also shown their ballots to people other than the party's polling agent, and demanded that their votes should not be taken into account. If that is done, Rajput contended, then he would win the poll and Patel will stand defeated. Apart from EC and Patel, all the candidates, including senior BJP leaders Smriti Irani and Amit Shah, who had contested the Rajya Sabha election from Gujarat last year, were made respondents in the petition.

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