HC lets BJP leader amend plea against Jain's election

Delhi HC allows BJP leader to amend plea, place fresh documents in challenge to Satyendra Jain election

Vats lost to Jain in the 2020 Delhi Assembly elections from Shakur Basti constituency

Delhi Health Minister Satyendar Jain. Credit: PTI file photo

The Delhi High Court has allowed BJP leader S C Vats to make amendments in his petition challenging the election of Delhi Health Minister Satyendra Jain to the legislative assembly for allegedly indulging in "corrupt practices".

Vats lost to Jain in the 2020 Delhi Assembly elections from Shakur Basti constituency here.

The court has also permitted Vats to place on record certain additional documents and asked Jain to file his reply to the amended petition within four weeks and listed the matter for hearing on July 19.

"From the amendments as proposed to be brought, it is evident that the petitioner (Vats) has not introduced any new fact and is only adding particulars to the existing facts. Further, the respondents (Jain, returning officer and chief election officer) are yet to file their reply to the election petition and hence the amendments are sought at the preliminary stage itself.

"Consequently, this court deems it fit to permit amendments to the petition as also filing of the additional documents," Justice Mukta Gupta said in an order passed on April 8, and made available now.

Vats, in his plea through advocate Sahil Ahuja, had sought to make amendments to the plea regarding some typographical errors, inadvertent omission and explanatory facts which could not be stated in the original election petition.

He said the documents include the details of WhatsApp groups and snapshots of Facebook account and Twitter web pages which are relevant for the adjudication of issues involved in the election petition.

However, certain proposed amendments were opposed by senior advocate Sudhir Nandrajog, who represented Jain, on the ground that new facts have been added in these paragraphs and it amounts to improvements in material facts, which is not permissible under the law in an election petition.

Vats has filed a petition challenging Jain's election in which the court had earlier issued notice and sought responses of the AAP leader, Returning Officer, Chief Election Officer and three other candidates who had contested for the same constituency.

The petition, which was filed in August 2020, has sought that the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) leader's election be declared null and void, and a re-election conducted.

It has alleged that Jain "bribe" voters of his constituency with "gifts" such as cameras, benches, air-conditioners and computers, to some societies there and therefore, prevented them from exercising their right to vote in a free and fair manner.

"The facts set out would clearly demonstrate that the respondent no.1 (Jain) has violated the purity of the election process and democracy which are both basic features of the Constitution.

"Consequently, the respondent no.1 is also liable to be disqualified from contesting the elections for such period as specified in the Representation of People Act," the plea has said.

On the plea to preserve records of election, the high court had earlier refused to pass an order for maintaining status quo at this stage, saying the petitioner has already approached the court so late.

The plea has also claimed that Jain did not disclose his actual expenses incurred during the election campaign and exceeded the cap on poll expenditures.

The petition has further sought that during pendency of the matter, Jain be prevented from attending the legislative assembly and drawing emoluments or any other payments.