The Election Commission today told the Delhi High Court that a complaint case against Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal was pending before a Goa court for his alleged bribery remarks during the January 2017 assembly polls there.
The submission came in pursuance to the court’s earlier direction on whether any FIR has been lodged, as the EC had previously stated that such an action has been taken.
Justice Rekha Palli was informed by the counsel for EC that a complaint case was filed in pursuance to the poll panel’s letter of January 29 last year directing the Chief Electoral Officer of Goa to take legal action or lodge an FIR against Kejriwal for his bribery remark at poll rallies in the state on January 7-8 last year.
Addressing a series of rallies in Goa, Kejriwal had reportedly asked voters to “accept money from the Congress and BJP candidates but vote for the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP).”
EC’s counsel P R Chopra said no FIR has been lodged against the AAP leader and the complaint case has been listed before the Goa court for March 1 and the complainant has been asked to appear.
Kejriwal’s lawyer had earlier told the court that according to information received under the RTI Act, no FIR has been lodged against him anywhere in Goa in connection with the remarks.
During the day’s hearing, advocate Manish Vashisht, appearing for Kejriwal, contended that the actions of EC were in violation of his right to freedom and free speech.
This was opposed by Chopra who sought time to file counter affidavit. He also argued that the AAP leader’s petition was not maintainable and said such statements went against the model code of conduct.
The court noted that despite opportunity, the EC has not filed its response, but granted it time while listing the matter for further hearing on May 25. The bench also said it has not expressed any view on the maintainability of the petition.
Kejriwal’s lawyer contended that such statements did not fall in the category of instigating somebody and referred to an order of a Delhi trial court which had dismissed a petition making similar allegations. Kejriwal, in his plea, has alleged that the poll panel’s January 29, 2017 order had curtailed his right to free speech.
The BJP had filed two complaints against Kejriwal seeking his prosecution under various sections of Indian Penal Code for asking voters to accept money. Congress too had condemned his statement.
The poll panel had, thereafter, directed that a complaint be lodged against the AAP leader under the provisions of the Representation of the People Act dealing with bribing voters and relevant sections of the IPC.