No relief for Patel as HC decides to hear plea against RS-election

New Delhi—The Gujarat High Court o Friday junked an application filed by senior Congress leader Ahmed Patel seeking dismissal of a petition challenging his election to the Rajya Sabha in 2017.

Justice Bela Trivedi is currently hearing BJP leader Balwantsinh Rajput’s petition challenging Patel’s election.

Ahmed Patel’s lawyer P S Champaneri sought dismissal of Rajput’s petition at the “threshold level”, for not serving on respondents an attested copy of the petition as required under the law.

Rajput’s lawyer Nirupam Nanavati had argued that this was a minor flaw, which could be corrected easily.

The court had earlier also ordered Rajput to remove the Election Commission as a respondent. It had disallowed Rajput from challenging the EC’s order invalidating the votes of rebel Congress MLAs Raghavjee Patel and Bholabhai Gohel for showing ballot papers to the BJP’s polling agent.

Senior advocate Kapil Sibal, arguing for Ahmed Patel, had contended at an earlier hearing that MLAs are supposed to vote for their party candidates, according to a Supreme Court judgement.

Therefore, there was no merit in Rajput’s (another) contention that a whip issued by the Congress, asking its MLAs to vote for Ahmed Patel, amounted to exercise of “undue influence” on voters under the election laws, Sibal had said.

After the EC invalidated the votes of two rebel Congress leaders, Patel was declared a winner along with BJP’s Amit Shah and Union minister Smriti Irani in the Rajya Sabha polls from Gujarat held in August last year.

Rajput, who lost in the election, moved the high court challenging the Election Commission’s decision to invalidate the two votes. Had these votes been counted, he would have defeated Patel, Rajput said.

His petition also alleged that Patel took party MLAs to a resort in Bengaluru before the election, which amounted to bribing the voters.

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