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CD case: BJP tells EC to withdraw from hearing

BJP delegation gave a letter to EC, asking him not to be part of the panel hearing the petitions filed by the Congress, reports Shekhar Iyer.

lucknow Updated: Apr 10, 2007 01:16 IST

In a new twist to the controversial CD saga, a BJP delegation gave a letter to Election Commissioner Navin Chawla, asking him not to be part of the panel hearing the petitions filed by the Congress and other parties seeking the saffron party’s de-recognition.

Signed by BJP vice president Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi, the letter signaled the party’s strategy to focus on Chawla whose appointment was challenged by Jaswant Singh, BJP’s deputy leader in Rajya Sabha, and Chandra Bushan Singh, Samajwadi Party MP.

The BJP letter reminded Chawla that two petitions were pending against Chawla in the Supreme Court over his receiving funds from a political party just weeks before his appointment as the Election Commissioner by the UPA government in March 2005. Hence, he should not hear a case against the BJP.

Chawla read the contents of the letter and consulted Chief Election Commissioner N Gopalaswami and also another EC S Y Qureshi as the bench’s hearing was in progress. Later, the Commission’s full bench adjourned for Wednesday.

In April last year, a NDA delegation had met President A.P.J. Abdul Kalam to request him to direct Prime Minister Manmohan Singh to forward to the Chief Election Commissioner their earlier petition signed by 205 members of Parliament for the removal of Chawla. Later, Attorney-General Milon Banerjee gave a clean chit to Chawla, saying there was no blot on his conduct as EC though the Opposition complained to Kalam about his “misconduct” as a bureaucrat (before he became EC) by running private trusts that accepted donations from MPs.

BJP leaders said the petitions against Chawla were due for hearing on April 13. They did not rule out approaching the Supreme Court for a direction that Chawla should not hear the CD case.

Responding to petitions filed by V P Singh-led Jan Morcha and the BSP which sought the BJP’s de-recognition, the BJP said, though it was a mistake on its part that an “unauthorized” CD got released, the EC had no power to cancel its registration as demanded by its opponents.

The BJP said only the people who as the ultimate sovereign, have a right to reject or approve a political party in an election. “If a party breaches any covenant of the election law, the election of its candidate can be set aside under the Representation of People's Act (RPA). It only provides of registration of political parties. There are no provisions for cancellation or withdrawal of registration.”

The BJP cited the case of Arjun Singh vs BJP in 1992, in which the EC had already held that there was no such power with the EC to cancel or withdraw the registration of a political party.

Besides, the BJP said, the Supreme Court had also held that there was no power to cancel the registration of a political party once it was granted. The only exception to this provision was when a party had attained the registration by fraud or forgery, it said denying all the contents in the materials placed by the BSP.

The BJP continue to hold that it had already informed the EC that it had not produced, prepared, displayed or distributed the impugned CD, which was not been approved by the BJP leadership and it was not a part of the party's election campaign.

In Lucknow, top BJP leaders L K Advani, M M Jopshi and Venkaiah Naidu accompanied party chief Rajnath Singh at a protest march in Lucknow as he offered to court arrest in connection with a FIR filed against him at the instance of the EC. But police refused to oblige them saying they had not come across any evidence to arrest the BJP chief.

After the march to Hazratganj Police Station, Advani told reporters that lodging of an FIR against an “innocent person” like Rajnath Singh was "bad in law and bad in taste."

He said Rajnath was not at all involved in any way in the release of the CD. Advani accused Congress and other political parties of ganging up against BJP over the issue to derive political mileage in the ongoing UP assembly polls.

First Published: Apr 10, 2007 01:12 IST