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HC to give interim order on Swaraj India’s plea on poll symbol

swaraj, yogendra,
Swaraj Abhiyan leaders Prashant Bhushan, Shanti Bhushan and Yogendra Yadav during a press conference after the launch of their new political party ‘Swaraj India’. (PTI Photo)

The Delhi High Court today said it will issue an interim order on April 3 on Yogendra Yadav-led Swaraj India’s plea against a single judge’s verdict dismissing their petition for allotting a common symbol to its candidates in upcoming MCD polls.

A bench of justices Sanjiv Khanna and Chander Shekhar said that as the matter requires consideration, at present it will pass an interim order on Monday as to whether a common symbol can be allotted to Swaraj India in the upcoming municipal corporation elections or not.

MCD elections will be held on April 23.

“Due to paucity of time we will at present pass an interim order, as the matter requires consideration,” the bench said, adding that “in democracy we will have to allow others also to contest election. It cannot be restricted to only one or two political parties”.

It observed that even the Delhi state election commission is examining the issue and has written to the authorities concerned to consider amending the rules for allotment of common symbols to registered but unrecognised political party.

Senior advocate Shanti Bhushan and advocate Prashant Bhushan, who appeared for Swaraj India, submitted before the larger bench that they had urged the Delhi poll panel and the single judge that a common symbol be allotted to registered unrecognised parties so that a level playing field is created in the elections.

The counsel argued that the Election Commission of India has created a level playing field by allowing common symbols to be granted to registered unrecognised parties in case of Assembly and Parliamentary elections.

Delhi poll panel’s counsel Sumeet Pushkarna opposed their appeal on the grounds that 42 more requests have been made by similarly placed parties.

“In case it relaxes the rule under challenge by Swaraj India, it may have a situation where we will have to given all of them a common symbol,” Pushkarna submitted.

He explained that it will be a logistical challenge to do it immediately, since electronic voting machine (EVMs) may have to be tagged and even voters can get confused.

They also told the court they have procured 12,000 EVMs from Rajasthan and that each candidate’s photo is going to be displayed on the machine for benefit of voters and unrecognised parties.

The single judge on March 29 had rejected the party’s plea for common symbol asking it to first “make a place for itself under the Sun” and “prove its mettle”.

The single judge’s verdict had come on the party’s plea challenging the Delhi poll panel’s decision not to allot a common symbol to it to contest the MCD polls.

Swaraj India had sought quashing of the panel’s March 14, 2017 notification and an April 2016 order which had said that the nominees of such parties would be treated as independent candidates for allotment of symbols.

Swaraj India was floated in October last year by Yadav and advocate Prashant Bhushan, who were expelled from Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) after they questioned Arvind Kejriwal’s leadership.

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