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SC stays EC order revoking Kamal Nath’s star campaigner status for MP bypolls

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Kamal Nath INC

The Supreme Court Monday stayed the Election Commission order which revoked “star campaigner” status of former Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Kamal Nath for model code violation during the campaign for bypolls in 28 assembly constituencies in the state.

The counsel appearing for the poll panel told a bench headed by Chief Justice S A Bobde that Nath”s plea has become infructuous as the campaigning has ended and the voting is to take place on Tuesday.

“We are staying it,” said the bench, also comprising Justices A S Bopanna and V Ramasubramanian.

The apex court was hearing Nath’s plea challenging the October 30 order of the EC revoking his star campaigner status.

While a political party pays for the expenditure of its star campaigner, a candidate pays the expenses of other campaigners.

Besides seeking quashing of the EC order, the senior Congress leader has also sought framing of appropriate guidelines for speeches during campaigning by star campaigners or campaigners, “keeping in mind the right to freedom of speech and expression and concept of democratic elections”.

During the hearing conducted through video-conferencing on Monday, senior advocate Rakesh Dwivedi, appearing for the EC, told the bench, “This is infructuous as campaigning has ended. Voting is tomorrow.”

Senior advocate Kapil Sibal, appearing for Nath, said the matter has not become infructuous and the EC had not issued any notice to the former chief minister before passing the October 30 order.

“How can you determine who is their leader? It”s their power not EC’s power,” the bench asked EC”s counsel.

Dwivedi said, “We have acted under the model code of conduct and moreover, now the matter is infructuous”.

“It does not matter whether the matter is infructuous or not. We will determine that from where do you get power,” the bench said.

When Dwivedi said if the court is to determine this aspect then EC’s order not be stayed, the bench said, “No, we are staying it.”

Nath, who is currently the president of Madhya Pradesh Congress Committee, has said in his plea that the EC has passed the order without any notice or hearing him based on a complaint by the BJP against a speech delivered on October 13.

“It is submitted that the impugned order (of EC) is illegal, arbitrary, unreasoned, passed in complete violation of basic canons of natural justice and in negation of fair play and therefore, deserves to be quashed.

“Further, no notice has been issued to the petitioner (Nath) with regard to the impugned order in complete violation of principles of natural injustice,” said the plea, filed through advocate-on-record Varun Chopra.

In his plea, Nath said that EC has passed the October 30 order and has revoked his name from the list of ”star campaigners” of the Indian National Congress on the “ground of repeated violation of model code of conduct (MCC) and advisories” of the poll panel.

The plea has said that MCC has been in force for 12 districts of Madhya Pradesh since September 29 when the schedule for by-elections to 28 seats in the state legislative assembly, which are to be held on November 3, was announced by the EC.

The former Union minister and nine-time Member of Parliament further claimed that leaders of the BJP have been “repeatedly making statements ex-facie in violation” of the model code during campaigning for the by-elections.

“It is reiterated that despite use of such language in public view and blatant violation of the Model Code of Conduct, the Respondent No.1 (EC) has not taken any such action against any leaders of BJP or the party itself for allowing its leaders to repeatedly violate provisions of MCC,” it has said.

The plea has also raised several questions of law of public importance, including whether the fundamental right of freedom of speech and expression guaranteed to Nath has been abrogated by the EC.

In the order, the poll panel had said, “…for repeated violation of Model Code of Conduct and for completely disregarding the advisory issued to him, the Commission hereby revokes the status of leader of political party (Star Campaigner) of Kamal Nath, Ex-Chief Minister, Madhya Pradesh, with immediate effect for the current Bye-elections of Legislative Assembly of Madhya Pradesh.”

The commission referred to his remarks against Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan.

He had used the words “mafia” and “milawat khor” against a political rival at a recent campaigning event.

Last week, the EC had asked Nath not to use words like “item” in campaigning.

India

Right to salary a fundamental right: Delhi HC

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Delhi High Court

New Delhi, Jan 20 : The Delhi High Court has pulled up the municipal corporations for the non-payment of salaries and pensions to their employees, noting that paucity of funds cannot be an excuse and that right to receive pay is a fundamental right enshrined under the Constitution of India.

A division bench of Justice Vipin Sanghi and Rekha Palli was hearing a batch of petitions in relation to the non-payment of salaries and pensions to the employees of Delhi municipal corporations, particularly North Delhi Municipal Corporation (NrDMC) and East Delhi Municipal Corporation (EDMC).

“Reason assigned for non-payment of timely salaries is stated to be paucity of funds which, as is well settled, cannot be an excuse for non-payment, keeping in view the fact that the right to receive salary and pension is a fundamental right enshrined under Article 21 of Constitution and non-payment would have direct bearing on quality of life,” the court stated.

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NCP should decide on poll alliance soon: Goa leader

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Sharad Pawar

The Nationalist Congress Party should decide its political strategy for the 2022 Assembly polls in Goa well ahead of time, NCP state president Jose Philip D’Souza said on Wednesday.

D’Souza also said that party supremo Sharad Pawar was scheduled to arrive in Goa on Wednesday for a brief visit to meet with the state executive committee members and discuss strategy for the upcoming polls.

“We will be discussing our electoral agenda with Sharad Pawarji, because elections are just a year away,” D’Souza said.

“Planning should be done in advance. If like minded parties want to go together for the 2022 elections, it has to be decided now. We will be discussing this issue,” D’Souza also said.
The party had fared poorly in the 2017 Assembly polls winning just one seat in the 40-member Goa Assembly, after much delayed talks for an alliance with the Congress failed.

D’Souza claims that it was imperative for the party to ensure that if the party was to ally with a “like-minded” party for the 2022 polls, the deal had to be sewn together sooner rather than later.

“Whether we should go with an alliance with other parties or not, it has to be decided now. If we leave it for too late, with a month or two to go for elections, then there is limited scope for discussion and things can go wrong. The talks should begin now,” D’Souza said, adding that he would be discussing the matter with Pawar.

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India

PM must wake up to reality about poverty: Chidambaram

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chidambaram

A day after 15 migrant construction workers, including a child, were crushed to death by a truck in Gujarat’s Surat, senior Congress leader P. Chidambaram on Wednesday slammed the Modi government at the Centre, saying it is time that the Prime Minister woke up to reality and not repeat the statistics about toilets, housing and open defection-free numbers fed by bureaucrats.

In a statement, Chidambaram said, “The tragedy of 15 migrant construction workers being run over and killed in Gujarat must open our eyes to the reality of poverty in India.”

Firing salvos at the government, former Finance Minister Chidambaram asked “why were the workers sleeping on the roadside? Is not the contractor obliged to provide them shelter near the construction site? Where do they wash, bathe, cook and keep their children? On the roadside in the open?”

“The Prime Minister must wake up to the reality and not repeat the ‘statistics’ about toilets, housing and ODF fed by bureaucrats,” he said.

His remarks came a day after at least 15 migrant labourers from Rajasthan, including a child sleeping near a road were crushed to death and six others injured by a speeding dumper truck in Surat.

The incident happened when the dumper truck lost control and ran over some 20 sugarcane farm labourers. Twelve were killed on the spot, one died while being shifted to hospital and two succumbed later during treatment while six others were being treated in hospital.

–IANS

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