The Supreme Court on Wednesday reserved the order on the petition challenging the election of Prime Minister Narendra Modi from the Varanasi parliamentary seat. The plea was filed by sacked Border Security Force (BSF) soldier Tej Bahadur challenging the rejection of his candidature by the returning officer on May 1, 2019.
During the Lok Sabha elections last year, the returning officer had held that Bahadur failed to produce a certificate confirming that he was not dismissed from employment by the state on grounds of corruption or disloyalty. He was dismissed from BSF in 2017 after he posted a video online complaining about the quality of food served to the troops.
Bahadur claimed that he was not given sufficient time to produce the certificate and the election officer went ahead with dismissing his nomination. On May 1 last year, he approached the Election Commission of India for the certificate but the same could not be obtained. The counsel also argued that Bahadur had earlier filed his nomination as an Independent candidate and later as a candidate of the Samajwadi Party.
Bahadur had approached the top court after Allahabad High Court rejected his petition on December 6, 2019, on the ground that he was neither a candidate nor an elector of Varanasi to challenge the election of the Prime Minister.
Counsel for Bahadur had circulated a letter for adjournment but the Supreme Court refused to adjourn stating that this matter is being adjourned the third time. “We are hearing you because the respondent is the only office in India. It’s the office of the PM. We don’t want this to be carried on like this,” the court stated. “Why should we grant you liberty for adjournment? You are abusing the process of law. You argue,” a bench headed by Chief Justice of India SA Bobde told Bahadur’s counsel.
Modi was represented by senior advocate Harish Salve while advocate Pradeep Kumar Yadav appeared on behalf of Bahadur.
(With agency inputs)