SC seeks EC reply on plea by 21 opposition leaders for verification of 50 pc VVPAT slips

The Supreme Court Friday agreed to hear the plea of 21 opposition leaders, led by Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister N Chandrababu Naidu, seeking that VVPAT slips of at least 50 per cent of voting machines in each assembly constituency be checked randomly in the Lok Sabha elections.

The leaders from six national and 15 regional parties, claiming to represent 70-75 per cent of the population, have also sought the setting aside of the Election Commission of India (EC) guideline on random verification of one assembly seat.

A bench, headed by Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi said that notice be issued to the EC, and the Chief Election Commissioner (CEC) should depute an officer to assist the court in the matter.

The bench, also comprising Justices Deepak Gupta and Sanjiv Khanna, posted the matter for further hearing on March 25 and asked the ECI to file its reply in two weeks.

The parties include the Congress, Nationalist Congress Party, Aam Aadmi Party, CPI (Marxist), CPI, Trinamool Congress, Samajwadi Party, Bahujan Samaj Party, Rashtriya Lok Dal, Loktantrik Janata Dal and the Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK).

“The petitioners are presidents/ leaders of 21 different national and regional political parties (six out of seven national parties and 15 regional parties) across the country electorally representing about 70-75 percent of the people of India,” the plea said.

It has sought quashing of the EC guideline which provides that random verification of Voter Verifiable Paper Audit Trail (VVPAT) slips shall be conducted in one polling stations in case of assembly election and in each assembly segment in case of Lok Sabha election.

The plea also sought, “a further direction to the election commission for random verification of at least 50 per cent electronic voting machines (EVM) using the VVPAT per assembly segment/ assembly constituency”.

The plea referred to the 1975 verdict of apex court in the case of former Prime Minister Indira Gandhi, which held that free and fair elections are part of the basic structure of the Constitution of India.

It also referred to the 2013 verdict of Supreme court in the case of BJP leader Subramanian Swamy where it was held that paper trail for EVM are an “indispensable requirement” for free and fair elections.

“The impugned guideline issued by Respondent No.2 (Election Commission of India) hits at the basic structure of the Constitution by making VVPAT completely ineffective and merely ornamental in nature as it translates to an actual check on less than 0.44 per cent of EVMs in the country.

“The said Guideline, therefore, defeats the entire purpose of introducing VVPAT and renders the judgment and directions passed by this court completely otiose,” it said.

The plea further stated that the guideline amounts to taking away from the left hand what was given by the right and reduce the safeguards and substantive essence of the judgments of this Court to a nullity.

“The petitioners submit that a procedural or executive instruction in the form of guidelines cannot render the main substantive safeguard nugatory, more so where the latter traces itself back not only to a Constitutional provision but, indeed, to the basic structure of the Constitution,” it said.

The plea further stated that the directions are being sought for giving effect to the judgment of this court declaring VVPAT as “integral and intrinsic to free and fair elections which, in turn are part of the basic structure of the Constitution of India”.

Naidu, the lead petitioner, had declared in February that the parties will be moving the apex court against the use of EVMs.

The move comes after the leaders of the opposition parties met at NCP chief Sharad Pawar’s residence.

The parties had raised apprehensions in a meeting with the EC in February about the credibility of EVMs, although the poll panel has denied allegations of machines being tampered with.

The EC, while announcing the Lok Sabha election schedule, had said that mandatory checking of EVMs and VVPAT will be done on the basis of one polling station for each Lok Sabha constituency.

Earlier, Kamal Nath and Sachin Pilot last year had approached the apex court for conducting VVPAT verification at least 10 per cent of randomly selected polling booths in each assembly constituency to ensure free and fair elections in MP and Rajasthan last year.

However, the apex court, which was dealing with other poll issues ahead of the assembly polls in MP and Rajasthan had refused to go into the VVPAT issue in its judgement delivered on October 12, 2018 saying these issues were dealt by the apex court in earlier petitions and orders have been passed.

Court dismisses sedition case against SP leader Azam Khan

A local court here has dismissed a sedition case lodged against Samajwadi Party leader Mohd Azam Khan for allegedly making controversial remarks on Kashmir.

Chief Judicial Magistrate Amarjeet Singh dismissed the case yesterday and rejected the final report filed by the police in the matter.

The case was registered against Khan by Bajrang Dal leader Ujjawal Gupta for his alleged controversial comments on Kashmir on December 21, 2010.

The investigating officer had filed a final report in the case on May 5, 2012, against which Gupta had moved a protest application on January 8, 2013.

On May 24, 2013, the court rejected the final report and said it was false and was based on baseless facts to get desired results.

It directed a re-investigation, asking police to obtain original recording from the media and make it a part of the probe.

Following the court’s judgment, Gupta said he will approach the high court against the decision.

Khan had come under attack from the Congress and the BJP for his controversial remarks on the status of Jammu and Kashmir.

While the Congress had slammed Khan for his reported comment that senior party leader Ghulam Nabi Azad belonged to Kashmir and not India, and for questioning the status of the state, the BJP had demanded action against him.

Dubbing his remark as “anti-national”, the UP unit of the BJP had demanded that Khan should be booked for the offence.

CBI probe into three ‘fake’ police encounters : Samajwadi Party

In a memorandum addressed to Uttar Pradesh Governor Ram Naik, the Samajwadi Party (SP) today demanded a CBI probe into three alleged fake encounters by the police in the state.

The workers of the party staged a demonstration at the collectorate here, protesting against the deteriorating law- and-order situation in the state.

“These bogus encounters are proof that in order to hide its failure to control the law-and-order situation, the state government has chosen this mode,” district SP chief Tanveer Ahmed alleged, before submitting the memorandum to Additional District Magistrate (law-and-order) Aditya Kumar Srivastava.

Ahmed alleged that the attempt to kill Jitendra Yadav, a gym trainer, the killing of Madhav, an eight-year-old boy of Mohanpur Aduki village, and the encounter of Sumit Gurjar showed that the police personnel could go to any extent to get a promotion.

Amidst a thunderous applause, he also announced that the SP would open a “pakora” counter on February 11 at the Holigate in Mathura.

Larger SC bench to examine if an expelled MP is bound by whip

Larger SC bench to examine if an expelled MP is bound by whip
Larger SC bench to examine if an expelled MP is bound by whip

The Supreme Court today referred to a larger bench the issue whether a lawmaker is bound by the party whip even after his or her expulsion.

The apex court was hearing a plea filed by Rajya Sabha MP and expelled Samajwadi Party member Amar Singh, who has sought to declare that the provisions of the 10th Schedule of the Constitution relating to disqualification on ground of defection do not apply to an elected member of a House who has been expelled by the party.

A bench of Justices Dipak Misra and A M Khanwilkar referred to an earlier plea filed by Singh in which the court had refused to revisit the historic 1996 verdict on the anti- defection law which had held that a nominated or elected lawmaker of a political party is bound by its whip even after expulsion.

The bench said while dealing with that case, the two judge bench had referred the matter to a larger bench and framed certain questions, including “What is the status in either House of Parliament or the state legislatures of a member who is expelled from the party which set him/her up as a candidate for election”.

The matter was then heard by a three-judge bench which had disposed of the plea while keeping open the questions referred to by the two-judge bench for decision in an appropriate case.

“As we find, in the case at hand, the term of the petitioner (Amar Singh) shall be up to July 4, 2022. Thus, the reference that was made in the case of Amar Singh, the present petitioner, remains to be dealt with as the same has not been answered with the efflux of time,” the apex court said today.

“As the question remains alive today, we think it appropriate that the matter should be placed before the larger bench for consideration of the questions which we have reproduced from the decision rendered in Amar Singh,” it said.

The bench said the petition be placed before Chief Justice of India J S Khehar for the constitution of an appropriate larger bench to deal with the issues.

“In the alternative, declare that the petitioner having been expelled by the Samajwadi Party, his conduct would no longer fall within the acts that constitute a disqualification within the meaning of para 2(1)(a) and para 2(1)(b) of the 10th Schedule of the Constitution,” Singh’s plea had said.

The apex court also issued notice to the Centre on the interim relief sought by Singh that the 1996 verdict shall not apply to him while the issues raised by him are pending consideration by the larger bench.

As per the interpretation of the anti-defection law by the Supreme Court in 1996, a member elected or nominated by a political party continues to be under its control even after his or her expulsion.

( Source – PTI )

Goa Police seek to close case against UP MLA

Goa Police seek to close case against UP MLA
Goa Police seek to close case against UP MLA

Goa Police has sought permission from the state’s children’s court to close a case involving UP’s Samajwadi Party MLA Mahendra Kumar Singh who was booked under Immoral Trafficking Act in 2013.

“We have recently filed report before Goa Children’s Court seeking to close the case due to lack of evidence,” Panaji Police inspector Siddhanth Shirodkar said today.
Singh was arrested along with five others in August 2013, after police raided a dance party in Panaji. Six girls was rescued during the raid.

All the arrested accused were booked under Prevention of Immoral Trafficking Act and later they got bail.

Singh had denied his involvement in the offence, claiming that he was called by his friend for a birthday party and he had arrived a little before police raided the place.

( Source – PTI )

Bail plea of SP leader rejected in murder case

Bail plea of SP leader rejected in murder case
Bail plea of SP leader rejected in murder case

A local court today rejected the bail plea of Samajwadi Party leader Mehrajuddin in a murder case.

Acting district judge D C Singh dismissed the bail plea of the SP leader, a former SP district secretary, saying that there is no case of relief.

Aleem was shot dead allegedly by the accused at Tewda village under Kakroli police station in the district in January 28, 2013.

Police registered a case of murder against six accused, including Mehrajuddin, in this connection.

Mehrajuddin surrendered before the court in January last.

( Source – PTI )

Mulayam’s remark on riot camps taken to minorities panel

ccThe National Commission for Minorities on Thursday admitted a petition seeking action against Samajwadi Party chief Mulayam Singh for saying that not one of the Muzaffarnagar riot victims now lives in any relief camp.

The petitioner cited remarks made by Mulayam Singh while addressing a party gathering in Uttar Pradesh capital Lucknow on December 23, on the occasion of the birth anniversary of late prime minister Chaudhary Charan Singh.

“There are no riot victims at all in the (Muzaffarnagar) camps. You can check. These are people who are conspirators. BJP and Congress have conspired. They have asked people to stay there at night and sit on dharnas,” the petitioner quoted Mulayam Singh as saying.

The petitioner, Shehzad Poonawala, a lawyer by training who has delivered over 3,000 blankets donated by people to the camps, listed 31 children who have died of cold at the relief camps.

He also listed the number of people in at least 13 camps in Muzaffarnagar and Shamli districts of western Uttar Pradesh.

(Sourtce: IANS)

The inhabitants of the camps fled their homes after the riots in early September, and many of them are now unwilling to return to their villages.

The inhabitants of the camps fled their homes after the riots in early September, and many of them are now unwilling to return to their villages.

The petitioner has sought that besides taking action against the Samajwadi Party chief, the commission should also direct the state government to make an honest and accurate assessment of the people displaced in the riots, and provide ration and relief material to those in the camps.

Poonawala said that Minorities Commission chairperson Wajahat Habibullah has promised to take up the matter.

(Source: IANS)

Farmers’ protest throws Noida traffic out of gear

ccFarmers of Greater Noida staged a sit-in at the Noida Gate at Sector 14 Saturday, causing a huge pile up of traffic at the DND (Delhi-Noida Direct) flyway and Noida-Greater Noida Expressway in Uttar Pradesh.

The farmers, under the banner of Bhartiya Kisan Union (BKU), protested against the Samajwadi Party government in the state for not keeping the promises it made for increased compensation for land acquired and plots to farmers whose lands were taken for the Yamuna Expressway.

BKU district president Ajay Pal Sharma said farmers were staging the protest at Chhalarpur underpass near the Formula 1 Race Circuit for over a month but no government official so much as visited the site.

On Saturday, the farmers in 400 tractor-trolleys came to meet the Noida, Greater Noida and Yamuna Expressway authorities’ chairman Rama Raman at his residence in Sector-14A.

They were not allowed to meet the official and security personnel closed the main entrance gate of Sector-14A. Farmers halted their vehicles on the main road at Noida Gate.

The farmers waited for more than three hours, blocking traffic on DND, the Noida-Greater Noida Expressway and Noida Gate.

BKU spokesman Rakesh Tikait reached the site and announced that the farmers have decided to grant authorities time till Jan 26, 2014 to fulfil their demands of 64 percent increased compensation and a plot at the ratio of 10 percent to the farmers.

If their demands were not met, they would put a padlock on the main gate of the Noida authority where the chairman’s office is situated, Tikait warned.

Farmers’leader Dushyan Nagar said the Samajwadi Party had announced in its manifesto that farmers would be granted 64 percent higher compensation than earlier announced by the state government, a plot to the ratio of 10 percent of acquired land and waiver of farmers’ loans. Free electricity to farmers was also promised but none of these promises were made good, he said. The Kisan Sangharsh Samiti has pledged its support to the BKU in its agitation.

“The government has formed a committee to look into the issues of farmers. The farmers’ leaders today announced a time limit till Jan 26, 2014. I hope some amicable solution would be found by then,” Hira Lal Gupta, district magistrate of Gautam Budh Nagar, said.

(Source: IANS)

Can’t get Y or Z security for being ex-minister: SC

A person cannot be entitled to Y or Z category security merely on the ground of being a former minister, the Supreme Court observed today while declining to entertain the plea of a BSP leader from Uttar Pradesh.

“If you as a matter of fact are not entitled under the rule for security you cannot be given security. This can’t be given at the expense of the state exchequer,” a Bench comprising justices Gyan Sudha Misra and Madan B Lokur said.

The remarks came during the hearing of the petition filed by Mr Ramveer Upadhyay, a minister in the previous Mayawati government who was stripped of his security cover when the Samajwadi Party came to power.

The BSP leader has filed an appeal against the Allahabad High Court decision by which he was not provided any interim relief and the order on his petition has been reserved.

“The Special Leave Petition (SLP) is not fit to be entertained,” the Bench said while adding that it was “premature”.

It also said if there were any threat perception to the former minister he was within his right to have private security at his expense.

However, the Bench said the BSP leader has the liberty to move the Division Bench of the High Court for interim security during the vacation and the High Court can consider his plea, assessing the report of the committee which looks into threat perception.

“What exactly is the threat perception has to be decided by the authorities of state, the Centre, IB or authority concerned,” the apex court said while making it clear that “prima facie” it was not satisfied with the arguments of the BSP leader for the need for X or Y category security.

“In our experience, we have hardly seen X or Y security for ordinary persons, however grave the threat perception,” the Bench observed during the hearing.

“It is a peculiar situation that you being a former MP or MLA will have security for life time,” it further said.

Mr Upadhyay was given Y security cover during the Mayawati regime but the present Samajwadi Party government withdrew the protection and he was provided only an armed constable for his protection. The court was told that he has been attacked several times and needed protection and the security was withdrawn because of political vendetta after the change of government in the state. While X category protectee gets a security cover of two personnel, under Y category, there is one personal security officer and an armed guard. Z category entails a security cover of 26 personnel.

Dimple Yadav moves High Court against election petition

Samajwadi Party MP Dimple Yadav moved to Allahabad High Court seeking to quash a petition challenging her election from Kannauj Lok Sabha seat in a by-poll held earlier this year.

Dimple’s counsel K R Singh submitted the application under Section 86(1) of the Representation of the People Act before single-judge bench of Justice Devendra Pratap Singh in response to the election petition of Prabhat Pandey.

Admitting the plea, Justice Singh asked the petitioner to file his reply to the application by December 17 and directed the opposite parties to file their reply, if any, by December 21.

The court fixed January 9, 2013 as the next date of hearing in the matter.

Pandey had challenged the unopposed election of the UP chief minister’s wife as MP on the ground that he was prevented from filing their nomination papers for the Kannauj Lok Sabha by-election held in June this year.