Legal stamp on EC ruling on party status

Legal stamp on EC ruling on party status

Apex court stands by poll panel on six pc vote rule for a partys recognition

Upholding an Election Commission mandate, the Supreme Court on Wednesday said a political party is required to poll at least six per cent votes and send a minimum of two members to the Legislative Assembly, for being accorded the status of a state party and get a party symbol.

A three-judge bench headed by Justice Altamas Kabir upheld the amendment to the Election Symbols (Reservation and Allotment) Order, 1968, made constitutionally valid through a notification on December 1, 2000.

“A three or four-cornered contest could lead to splitting of the majority of the votes so that a candidate with a minority share of the votes polled could emerge victorious. The Election Commission has set down a bench-mark which is not unreasonable,” the bench said.

“In order to gain recognition as a political party, a party has to prove itself and to establish its credibility as a serious player in the political arena of the State. Once it succeeds in doing so, it will become entitled to all the benefits of recognition, including the allotment of a common symbol,” Justice Kabir and Justice S S Nijjar said in their common verdict.

A number of political parties, including the Desiya Murpokku Dravida Kazhagam, the Praja Rajyam Party and the Bahujan Vikas Aghadi had moved the apex court in 2008 against the Election Commission order on allotment of party symbol.

However, contradicting justices Kabir and Nijjar, Justice J Chelameswar said: “I would hold that the symbols order, insofar as it denies the reservation of a symbol for the exclusive allotment of the candidates set up by a political party with insignificant poll performance is violative of Article 14 of the Constitution.”

“In a democratic set up, while the majorities rule, minorities are entitled to protection. Otherwise, the mandate of Article 14 would be meaningless. If democracies are all about only numbers, Hitler was a great democrat,” he said.

An earlier amendment had mandated that a party is required to secure at least six per cent of the total valid votes polled in the state, apart from having at least two members in the legislative assembly, in order to be recognised as a state party.

The DMDK had contended that it was denied recognition despite garnering over eight per cent of the votes in the Tamil Nadu Assembly elections since it had failed to return two members to the Assembly.

The parties had pleaded that more seats could be won despite polling less number of votes, which the bench dismissed.

Senior lawyers balk at empanelment

The Supreme Court on Wednesday rued the unwillingness of senior advocates to be appointed as amicus curiae to assist the poor accused in criminal cases, reports DHNS.

A bench headed by Chief Justice S H Kapadia said we needed competent senior advocates to provide legal aid to the poor but no one was willing to render help and get empanelled.

The court’s observation came after senior advocate Ram Jethmalani, putting forth his arguments against framing of guidelines for media reporting on sub judice matter, submitted that the court should make enough funds available to provide free legal aid to the poor.

The apex court’s registry had on January 17 put up a notice inviting senior advocates for empanelment for the appointment of amicus curiae. Steps were taken to set up fresh panels as the tenure of existing panels consisting of 16 senior advocates, 193 advocates-on-record and 167 non-advocates-on-record expired on March 31.

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