SC stays EC order directing Kamal Nath’s removal as ‘star campaigner’ for violating model code of conduct

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The Supreme Court on Monday stayed the Election Commission’s decision to revoke the “star campaigner” status of senior Congress leader and former Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Kamal Nath for allegedly violating the model code of conduct during an assembly by-election campaign in the state.

“Who gives you the power to determine who is the leader of the party. We stay this order. You have no such power…,” a Bench headed by CJI SA Bobde told the Commission while staying its October 30 order.

While a political party pays for the expenditure of its star campaigners, individual candidates pay for the expenditure of other campaigners.

On behalf of the EC, senior advocate Rakesh Dwivedi submitted that the matter had become infructuous because the election campaign was already over.

However, the Bench chose to issue a notice to the EC.

“How can the EC determine who will be a leader (campaigner) of the party?” it wondered.

Kamal Nath on Saturday moved the Supreme Court against the Election Commission’s decision to revoke his “star campaigner” status for allegedly violating the model code of conduct during by-election campaign for 28 assembly seats in the state.

The Madhya Pradesh Congress Committee President had sought quashing of the EC’s October 30 order on the ground that the order was passed without any notice to him just based on a complaint by a BJP leader.

Alleging that the order was “completely unreasoned and passed without application of mind”, he had also raised several questions of law regarding fundamental right to freedom of speech and expression.

He had urged the court to direct the EC to frame appropriate guidelines for speeches by star campaigners/campaigners, “keeping in mind the right to freedom of speech and expression and concept of democratic elections”.

“It is submitted that the impugned order is illegal, arbitrary, unreasoned, passed in complete violation of basic canons of natural justice and in the negation of fair play and therefore, deserves to be quashed. Further, no notice has been issued to the petitioner (Kamal Nath) with regard to the impugned order in complete violation of principles of natural injustice,” his petition read.

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