HC rejects MP Minister's plea to vote in Presidential poll

Frederick Owens
July 18, 2017

With today's order, it has become certain that the BJP leader will not be able to cast his vote in the Presidential Elections scheduled for tomorrow.

The voting for the presidential election ended in the Madhya Pradesh Legislative Assembly premises on Monday with 228 legislators casting their votes. As far as BJP is concerned, party's national leadership will take a decision whether Natorram should resign from Madhya Pradesh cabinet or should wait for final legal outcome in the matter.

Senior Advocate Mukul Rohatgi, appearing for Mishra, argued that the alleged act of corruption was committed way back in 2008 and that there has been a great delay on part of the Election Commission in taking action against the minister.

"The EC holding that there was an implied authorisation by the petitioner (Mishra) to publish these news items was thus a fair finding", the judge said in her 36-page verdict.

The matter reached the Delhi high court after the apex court on July 12, transferred the matter to it to be decided expeditiously before the July 17 presidential polls.

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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. However, the court held that the effect of the order on a subsequent election is not to be taken into account.

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.

A full bench of the EC, comprising then the chief election commissioner (CEC) Nasim Zaidi and election commissioners A.K. Jyoti (now CEC) and O.P. Rawat, had in its June order indicted Mishra and unseated him under various sections of the RPA.

Mishra who enjoys the confidence of state Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan has refused to step down despite the ECI ruling and challenged the same at the Gwalior bench of the Madhya Pradesh High Court. Appearing for Mishra, his counsel Dhruv Mehta said that there was no evidence produced to prove that his client had authorised the paid news articles.

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