19 Sep 2023 4:47 AM GMT
The Supreme Court, on Monday(September 18), heard the appeal pertaining to the disqualification of Madhya Pradesh’s Home Minister Narottam Mishra. The appeal was filed by the Election Commission of India (ECI) challenging the Delhi High Court’s 2018 decision which had set aside ECI’s order, passed in 2017, disqualifying Narottam Mishra. The Bench comprising, Justices Abhay S. Oka...
The Supreme Court, on Monday(September 18), heard the appeal pertaining to the disqualification of Madhya Pradesh’s Home Minister Narottam Mishra. The appeal was filed by the Election Commission of India (ECI) challenging the Delhi High Court’s 2018 decision which had set aside ECI’s order, passed in 2017, disqualifying Narottam Mishra.
The Bench comprising, Justices Abhay S. Oka and Pankaj Mithal, posted the matter on October 11, 2023.
At the commencement of the hearing, Senior Advocate CA Aryama Sundaram, appearing for the Mishra, informed the Bench that the matter was to be listed before Justice Aniruddha Bose.
“There seem to be some error, the matter was listed before Justice Bose.”
However, the Bench replied that they are also confused and all matters were assigned by the CJI. “We also don’t know, we also inquired”. The Bench further told that as per the directions, the matter is listed here.
At this, Sundaram requested the Bench to list the matter post November because of the upcoming elections. However, Senior Advocate Kapil Sibal, appearing for Congress leader Rajendra Bharati (who has filed an application seeking early hearing of the matter) strongly objected to the same. Sibal: “We can’t skip it”
The issue relates to the Madhya Pradesh assembly elections held in the year 2008..
The limit for expenditure for this election was 10 lakhs. Dr. Mishra, who contested on the ticket of the Bharatiya Janata Party, was declared the winning candidate. He had disclosed an expenditure of 2,40,827/- as required by Section 77 of the Representation of the People Act, 1951 (RPA). The complaint was made before the EC in the year 2009, wherein the then Congress candidate from Datia assembly constituency Rajendra Bharti alleged that Dr. Mishra, during the elections held in 2008 had published certain news advertisements for 4,79,860/- and did not disclose the same in their expenditure incurred as required under Section 77 of the RPA.
Pursuant to this, on June 23, 2017, the EC disqualified Mishra for three years, under section 10A of the RPA, from the date of the issue of orders.
Mishra assailed the said order before the single judge bench of the Delhi High Court however, the Court dismissed the appeal. Pertinently, when the appeal was filed before the Division Bench, the Court, setting aside the order of EC and Single Judge, held:
“..It is held that the EC and the Single Judge both erred in interpreting Sections 10A, 77 and 78 read with Rules 89 and 90, in the facts and circumstances of the present case; there was no manner of proof that could be reasonably accepted by a tribunal established by law, to conclude that Dr. Mishra had incurred, directly or indirectly, or had authorized through his agent the incurring of direct or indirect expenditure on his behalf for the publication of the 42 offending articles/features/ election appeals. The impugned order of the Election Commission, and the impugned judgment of the Single Judge upholding it therefore have to be set aside.”
In 2017, the Supreme Court had transferred Mishra's petition in the Madhya Pradesh High Court challenging the ECI decision to the Delhi High Court.
Case Title: ELECTION COMMISSION OF INDIA vs. NAROTTAM MISHRA, C.A. No. 811/2019