The Election Commission said on Monday it will file its reply at the earliest on the petition of Congress leader Kamal Nath challenging its order in the Supreme Court revoking his “star campaigner” status for Madhya Pradesh bypolls for repeated violations of the poll code. The Supreme Court on Monday stayed the Election Commission order revoking “star campaigner” status of Kamal Nath. It was hearing Nath’s plea challenging the October 30 order of the poll panel.
“Hon’ble Supreme Court is supreme. EC has been given an opportunity to file a reply in the matter, which shall be filed at the earliest,” the Commission said.
Earlier on Monday, the apex court had stayed Election Commission’s order. “We are staying the Election Commission’s order and the EC has no power,” said Chief Justice of India SA Bobde. The apex court asked the Election Commission to justify its order by filing an affidavit, while the poll body said that the matter is “remediless” since the campaigning is over and voting will be held on Tuesday.
During the hearing, which was held through video-conferencing on Monday, senior advocate Rakesh Dwivedi, appearing for the EC, told the bench, “this is infructuous as campaigning has ended. Voting is tomorrow.” However, senior advocate Kapil Sibal, representing 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.
The Election Commission had on Friday revoked Nath’s “star campaigner” status for “repeated violations” of the model code while campaigning in 28 assembly constituencies in the state. Nath had used the words “mafia” and “milawat khor” against a political rival at a recent campaigning event.
In its order, the Commission had said, “…for repeated violation of Model Code of Conduct and for completely disregarding the advisory issued to him, the Commission hereby revokes the status of leader of political party (Star Campaigner) of Kamal Nath, Ex-Chief Minister, Madhya Pradesh, with immediate effect for the current Bye-elections of Legislative Assembly of Madhya Pradesh.” It said no permission will be granted by authorities to Nath as a star campaigner.
“However, if any campaign is done by Kamal Nath from now onwards, the entire expenditure related to travel, stay and visit will be completely borne by the candidate in whose constituency he carries out campaigning,” it said. While the political party pays for the expenditure of a star campaigner, the candidate pays for the expenditure of other campaigners.
The EC had also asked him not to use words like “item” in campaigning. The former CM had used the jibe to hit out at state minister and BJP candidate Imarti Devi at a rally.
Nath had on Friday declined to comment on EC’s decision and only said that star campaigner is not a post or a designation. The former MP added he would speak after November 10.