Bombay HC declares Shiv Sena minister Khotkar’s election nomination invalid

Aurangabad bench of Bombay HC gives Arjun Khotkar four weeks to appeal against its order in Supreme Court

mumbai Updated: Nov 25, 2017 15:55 IST
HT Correspondent
HT Correspondent
Hindustan Times

In a jolt to Arjun Khotkar, Shiv Sena MLA and minister of state in the BJP-led state government, the Bombay high court has declared his 2014 election nomination null and void because it was filed after the deadline. This means Khotkar ceases to be an MLA. The court, however, has granted him four weeks’ time to appeal against the order in the Supreme Court.

Khotkar, who is minister of state for animal husbandry, dairy development and fisheries, said he would challenge the verdict as he had a strong ground to defend himself — he was standing in the queue of candidates to file the nomination with the returning officer when the deadline ended.

An MLA from Jalna constituency, Khotkar is serving his fourth term as a Sena legislator.

His election was challenged in the Aurangabad bench of the Bombay high court by Congress candidate and former MLA Kailash Gorantyal, on the grounds that the nomination was filed after the 3pm deadline set by the Election Commission (EC), and thus should be cancelled. Gorantyal had lost the polls against Khotkar by just 286 votes.

Khotkar said he had reached the returning officer’s office on time, but was waiting in a queue of candidates. “As it was the last day to file nominations, the returning officer was required to accept all applications of aspiring candidates standing in the queue, which was what he did. In fact, 17 other candidates filed their nominations after me and they were accepted,” he said. “I don’t want to comment on the court’s verdict, but still unable to understand the grounds. I will challenge the decision before the apex court.” Khotkar told HT.

At present, the Sena has 63 members in the 288-member Maharashtra legislature and is in the state government in alliance with the BJP, which fell short of 23 seats in getting a majority in the last Assembly elections.

First Published: Nov 24, 2017 15:58 IST