The Supreme Court bench of Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi, Justice S. K. Kaul and Justice K. M. Joseph on Wednesday dismissed a PIL seeking a direction to the government of India to heed the Election Commission’s proposal and take steps to reduce the time period for filing the accounts of election expenditure by contesting candidates so that more time is available for analysing the same.
The petition was filed by Advocate and BJP leader Ashwini Kumar Upadhyay in the wake of “lacunae in existing laws relating to election expenses, long pendency of election petitions and its appalling effect on free and fair elections”.
Advocate Gaurav Agarwal, appearing on behalf of the petitioner, advanced that the Election Commission has recommended an amendment of the prevailing law in the interest of free and fair elections since 2016, though clarifying that he is not seeking a mandamus in this behalf.
The other reliefs prayed for were a direction, writ or order to the Government for the institution of an election petition against the candidate who has lost the election but is guilty of corrupt practices under section 123 of the Representation of People’s Act, to limit the election expenditure by a candidate when contesting from Local Authority, Graduate or Teacher constituency and to provide for the appointment of additional Judges in the High Courts to decide the election petitions, preferably within six months and at the most within one year.
When petitioner-in-person, Mr. Upadhyay, stood up to assist Mr. Agarwal, the Chief Justice exclaimed, “Who are you? If you are the petitioner-in-person, how can you assist? And why are you in robes? You have to maintain some decorum! Sorry, on this ground only, dismissed!”
However, when Mr. Upadhyay sought the liberty to withdraw his plea, the same was allowed.