INDIAN EXPRESS MARCH 23 2010
An effort by the BSP to divert an Election Commission inquiry into allegations of misusing party symbol “elephant” fell flat on Monday in the Supreme Court.On February 22, the apex court had given the Election Commission (EC) three months’ time to decide whether installation of statues of elephants at public cost by the Mayawati government amounts to putting up of BSP’s election symbol.The order, based on a complaint filed by Advocate Ravi Kant, alleges “misuse of election symbol and praying for freezing of the election symbol of ‘elephant’ allotted to BSP”. Three other identical complaints filed by Surya Kant, Kamal Kant Jaswal and Atul Kumar Singh are already before the EC.
Recently, however, a separate petition was filed in the Supreme Court by one Manoj Agnihotri, seeking “freezing of election symbols of various political parties before the Election Commission of India, including the BSP”. Agnihotri said his plea was a “sequel” to Ravi Kant’s complaint. On Monday, the BSP joined in with an application before the Bench, requesting that “serious prejudice” will be done to “the third largest national political party” if the EC proceeds to hear only the complaints against it.
It suggested that the only way EC can avoid bias against the BSP is to tag Agnihotri’s allegations against other major political parties along with complaints about the BSP and give a common hearing to “avoid multiplicity of proceedings”.
“It would be appropriate in the interest of justice if the EC is directed to tag all five petitions relating to the freezing of election symbols of various political parties including that of BSP. Any decision in piecemeal by the EC will have serious ramification causing a serious prejudice to the BSP, whereas no prejudice would be caused to anyone if all the complaints are tagged together and heard and decided by the EC by a common order,” the application said.
“In the event, the Election Commission is permitted to pick and choose, the BSP will suffer in all respects in the matter,” it added.
Reacting to the application, the EC told the Bench on Monday that it has already rejected the suggestion from the BSP to club the five complaints. The poll body said it will exclusively hear the four complaints against the BSP on March 29.