Another bench of the Delhi High Court today recused from hearing Madhya Pradesh minister Narottam Mishra’s plea against an Election Commission (EC) order disqualifying him on charges of paid news.
The matter was listed before a bench of justices Sanjiv Khanna and Navin Chawla, one of whom recused from hearing the BJP leader’s petition. No reasons were given.
Yesterday, another bench of the high court had recused from hearing the matter.
The Supreme Court on July 28 had kept in abeyance the poll panel’s June 23 order disqualifying Mishra and had requested the Delhi High Court to expeditiously hear his appeal preferably within two weeks.
The high court had on July 16 dismissed Mishra’s plea for an interim stay of its single judge July 14 order, upholding the EC’s decision disqualifying him on the charges of paid news.
Mishra had sought an interim stay as a last ditch attempt to vote in the July 17 presidential election.
The single judge bench had on July 14 said that according to the provisions of the Representation of the People Act, the disqualification of a candidate has to be from the date of the order.
The BJP leader had contended before the high court that the EC’s order disqualifying him pertained to an election of 2008 and that his subsequent tenure from 2013 would remain unaffected.
The matter had reached the Delhi High Court after the apex court on July 12 transferred the matter to it to be decided expeditiously before the July 17 presidential poll.
The EC’s order had held him guilty of filing wrong accounts of election expense relating to articles and advertorials in the media during the 2008 assembly polls.
The poll panel’s order had come on a complaint by Congress leader Rajendra Bharti, who had contested the polls against Mishra in the 2008 assembly elections.
Mishra had contested the EC’s decision on the grounds of delay in proceedings and that no evidence showed he had authorised paid news articles.
While disqualifying Mishra from contesting elections for three years, the poll panel had used some strong words against paid news, calling it a “cancerous menace” that is assuming “alarming proportions” in the electoral landscape.
Mishra, who won from Datia assembly constituency, was the minister for water resources and public relations and the chief spokesperson of the Shivraj Singh Chouhan government.
The poll panel order had said that all the 42 news items that had appeared in five Hindi dailies were “extremely biased in favour of” Mishra.
It had said that its findings had also strengthened the conclusion that he had “knowingly participated or took advantage of the expenditure on such advertisements” that had appeared as news in the publication.
( Source – PTI )