A petition challenging the election of Prime Minister Narendra Modi from Varanasi was fixed for hearing on 15 November by the Allahabad court, even as his counsel prayed the matter be “dismissed in limine and not put on trial” as allegations made by the petitioner were “trivial and frivolous”.
While arguing before Justice V K Shukla, Modi’s counsel Satya Pal Jain asserted that the petition filed by Congress MLA Ajay Rai is “not maintainable”, since none of the allegations made in it “fell under any provisions of the Representation of People’s Act (RPA)”.
Responding to the allegation that posters and T-shirts carrying images of Modi were distributed during the election campaign amounts to “bribing the voters”, Jain said that, “Such acts could be termed as malpractice on part of a candidate only if it were proved that those involved in canvassing were acting with his or her consent. The petitioner has failed to establish the same here.”
“Moreover, the alleged distribution of T-shirts and posters had taken place before Modi filed his nomination papers. As per the RPA, a person contesting elections is deemed to be a candidate only from the date when he files his papers. Anything that takes place in constituency prior to that date cannot be used against the candidate,” said Jain, who is also the Additional Solicitor General and a member of the BJP’s national executive.
Jain, repudiated Rai’s charge that there were defects in the nomination papers filed by Modi, saying, “The main objection is with regard to the fact that Modi had written not known in columns relating to income and other details of his wife. However, there is a Supreme Court judgement in the light of which doing so was perfectly as per law.”
“Besides, the nomination papers were scrutinised by election officials and nobody has raised any objections or found any fault with the details submitted by Modi,” he pointed out.
Jain said that “the Supreme Court had once remarked that an election must not be lightly set aside since the process does not involve merely the candidate but the entire constituency.”
“The election petition lacks merit, is trivial and frivolous besides being not maintainable and hence we pray that it be dismissed in limine and not put on trial,” Jain added.