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MP bypolls: Election Commission has no power, says SC on Kamal Nath case

The counsel appearing for the poll panel told a bench headed by Chief Justice S A Bobde that Nath's plea has become infructuous as the campaigning has ended

Kamal Nath, MP congress
The apex court was hearing Nath's plea challenging the October 30 order of the EC revoking his star campaigner status

The Supreme Court on Monday stayed the Election Commission order which revoked ‘star campaigner’ status of former Madhya Pradesh chief minister Kamal Nath for model code violation during the campaign for bypolls in 28 Assembly constituencies in the state. 
 
The counsel appearing for the poll panel told a bench headed by Chief Justice S A Bobde that Nath’s plea has become infructuous as the campaigning has ended and the voting is to take place on Tuesday.

“We are staying it,” said the bench, also comprising Justices A S Bopanna and V Ramasubramanian.

The apex court was hearing Nath's plea challenging the October 30 order of the EC revoking his star campaigner status.

While a political party pays for the expenditure of its star campaigner, a candidate pays the expenses of other campaigners.

Besides seeking quashing of the EC order, the senior Congress leader has also sought framing of appropriate guidelines for speeches during campaigning by star campaigners or campaigners, “keeping in mind the right to freedom of speech and expression and concept of democratic elections”.

During the hearing conducted through videoconferencing on Monday, senior advocate Rakesh Dwivedi, appearing for the EC, told the Bench, “This is infructuous as campaigning has ended. Voting is tomorrow.” Senior advocate Kapil Sibal, appearing for Nath, said the matter has not become infructuous and the EC had not issued any notice to the former chief minister before passing the October 30 order.

“How can you determine who is their leader? It's their power not EC’s power,” the bench asked EC’s counsel.

Dwivedi said, “We have acted under the model code of conduct and moreover, now the matter is infructuous”.

“It does not matter whether the matter is infructuous or not. We will determine that from where do you get power,” the bench said.

When Dwivedi said if the court is to determine this aspect then EC’s order not be stayed, the bench said, “No, we are staying it.” Nath, who is currently the president of Madhya Pradesh Congress Committee, has said in his plea that the EC has passed the order without any notice or hearing him based on a complaint by the Bharatiya Janata Party against a speech delivered on October 13.

“It is submitted that the impugned order (of EC) 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. Further, no notice has been issued to the petitioner (Nath) with regard to the impugned order in complete violation of principles of natural injustice,” said the plea, filed through advocate-on-record Varun Chopra.

In his plea, Nath said that EC has passed the October 30 order and has revoked his name from the list of 'star campaigners' of the Indian National Congress on the “ground of repeated violation of model code of conduct (MCC) and advisories” of the poll panel.

The plea has said that MCC has been in force for 12 districts of Madhya Pradesh since September 29 when the schedule for by-elections to 28 seats in the state legislative assembly, which are to be held on November 3, was announced by the EC.