The Supreme Court on Monday sought the response of a BJP leader on a plea by Ahmed Patel seeking a stay on proceedings in the Gujarat High Court which is hearing a petition challenging the senior Congress leader’s election to the Rajya Sabha.
A bench headed by Chief Justice Dipak Misra, however, allowed the Gujarat High Court to frame the issues to be decided by it on the petition filed by BJP leader Balwantsinh Rajput challenging Patel’s election to the Upper House. Mr. Rajput had lost the election to Mr. Patel.
The bench, which also comprised Justices A.M. Khanwilkar and D.Y. Chandrachud, made it clear that the high court will not proceed in the matter after framing the issues. The bench then posted the matter after four weeks and asked both the parties to complete their pleadings by filing replies and rejoinder affidavits in the mean time.
In his plea, Mr. Patel has said that the election petition filed by his rival BJP nominee Mr. Rajput in the high court was not maintainable and needed to be dismissed. Mr. Patel was elected to the Rajya Sabha last year after defeating Mr. Rajput, who had resigned from the Congress to join the BJP.
The win for the Congress leader had come after the Election Commission had cancelled the votes of rebel Congress MLAs, Bhola Bhai Gohil and Raghav Bhai Patel. This had brought down the requirement for an outright victory for a candidate to 44 from 45. Immediately after Patel got elected, Rajput had filed a petition in the high court challenging the poll panel’s decision to invalidate the votes of the two rebel MLAs. Had these votes been counted, he would have defeated Patel, Rajput has contended.
In his petition in the High Court, Mr. Rajput has also alleged that Patel had taken the party MLAs to a resort in Bengaluru before the election, which, he claimed, amounted to bribing the voters. Mr. Patel had challenged Mr. Rajput’s plea and sought its dismissal at the “threshold level” for not serving the respondents an attested copy of the petition as required under the law.
The High Court, however, rejected his plea and said the petitioner had substantially complied with the provisions of law and the defects could be easily cured. Mr. Patel moved the top court against the high court order, saying that Mr. Rajput’s petition was “devoid of merits” and failed to show any “cause of action”.
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