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The Delhi High Court today asked the state election commission to "come prepared" with its stand on Yogendra Yadav-led Swaraj India's plea for allotting a common symbol to the party for the upcoming MCD polls.
"Get instructions and come prepared," Justice Hima Kohli said to the counsel appearing for the Delhi State Election Commission and listed the matter on March 20.
Swaraj India, represented by senior advocate Arvind Nigam, has sought quashing of the Delhi State Election Commission's April 2016 order which had said that candidates of unrecognised but registered parties would be treated as independent candidates for allotment of symbols.
The court listed the matter for hearing on March 20 as the counsel for the poll panel had not been given a copy of the petition.
The Delhi poll panel had yesterday announced that the municipal polls for 272 wards would be held on April 22 in the national capital.
Swaraj India was floated in October last year by Yadav and Prasant Bhushan, who were expelled from Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) after they questioned Arvind Kejriwal's leadership.
"They shall not be given any preference over other independent candidates in allotment of free symbols or allotment of only one free symbol to all its candidates in any of a Municipal Corporation of Delhi," the Delhi Symbol order of 2016 had said, as per the petition.
The party, registered by the Election Commission of India (ECI) in February 2017, has contended that the Delhi Symbol order was "wholly illegal, arbitrary, capricious, unreasonable and selective, destroying the very fairness of the proposed electoral process itself".
Swaraj India has contended in its plea that providing it a common symbol will create a level playing field between all the parties, whether recognised or not, and will also ensure free and fair elections.
Swaraj India has also challenged the February 21, 2017
and March 7, 2017, orders of the poll panel declining the party's request for a common symbol.
The party has contended that the Delhi poll panel denied their request for a symbol despite a provision in the rules of ECI to provide a common symbol to a registered but unrecognised political party like Swaraj India which is set to make its election debut in the upcoming MCD polls.
The party in its plea has said that ECI's Election Symbols (Reservation and Allotment) (Amendment) Order allows newly registered political parties to have a common symbol for all their candidates for contesting their first election.
The party has claimed that states like Maharashtra, Andhra Pradesh, Haryana, West Bengal, Kerala, Sikkim and Tripura follow the rule made by ECI.
"It is submitted that the respondents (Delhi poll panel and Delhi government) arbitrarily and with malafide intention are not changing their order in line with the position laid down and practiced by the ECI and the other state election commissions (SECs)," its petition has said.