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‘Mockery of voters’: Supreme Court in Pawar v Pawar hearing

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'Mockery of voters': Supreme Court during Pawar v Pawar hearing

New Delhi:

The current trend of defection from political parties, which results in the defecting faction being recognized as the “real” party, was today criticized by the Supreme Court, which called it “mockery of voters”. Hearing a petition from the Sharad Pawar faction of the Nationalist Congress Party, the court made it clear that the situation circumvented the Tenth Schedule of the Constitution, which was put in place to prevent defections and resulting political instability.

The NCP (Sharadchandra Pawar) had approached the courts to challenge the allocation of the party name and symbol to the Ajit Pawar faction by the Election Commission. His main concern is the use of the well-known clock symbol of the Ajit Pawar faction in the upcoming Lok Sabha elections.

The poll body’s decision was in line with its earlier order which assigned the name and party symbol to the rebel Shiv Sena faction led by Eknath Shinde, who later became the chief minister of Maharashtra.

“When the Election Commission recognizes a faction only on the basis of its legislative strength and not its organizational strength, does it not recognize a split, which is no longer approved under the tenth schedule,” Justice J Vishwanathan said.

“This way you can organize defections and claim the party symbol. Isn’t that a mockery of the voter?” » added the judge.

The Election Commission based its order in both cases on the number of legislators from each side – leaving aside the question of organizational strength, raised by the court.

The situation reveals a loophole in the anti-defection law, which states that a dissident faction can only avoid disqualification if it represents two-thirds of the party and merges with another party.

In both the case of the NCP and the Shiv Sena, the Election Commission recognized the splinter faction as the “real” party and assigned it the party name and poll symbol.

Only 12 of the NCP’s 53 MPs support Sharad Pawar, the party’s founder. Forty-one MPs stand with Ajit Pawar, who joined the BJP-Eknath Shinde alliance in July last year in a very public split that was a huge loss of face for his uncle 83 years old.

The Supreme Court today ordered status quo for now regarding the party name and poll symbol, although Ajit Pawar was asked to remove advertisements indicating that the matter is sub judice.

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