Apex court allocates poll symbols to MNS, others

September 14th, 2009 - 6:54 pm ICT by IANS  

New Delhi, Sep 14 (IANS) The Supreme Court Monday allocated election symbols to three registered but unrecognised political parties from Maharashtra including the Maharashtra Navnirman Sena (MNS), brushing aside the Election Commission’s plea that the move would create practical problems for it.
A bench of Chief Justice K.G. Balakrishnan and Justice P. Sathasivam allocated ‘railway engine’, ‘whistle’ and ‘coconut’ as poll symbols to MNS, Bahujan Agadi and Jansurya Shakti for the Oct 13 assembly elections.

The bench brushed aside Election Commission counsel Menakshi Arora’s contention that unregulated allotment of symbols would greatly upset the poll panel’s scheme on the issue as it has only around 70 symbols available for allocation, while the number of registered and unrecognised political parties in a state can run into hundreds.

The commission cannot afford to allocate a separate poll symbol for every unrecognised political party, argued Arora, adding that only recognised national and state-level parties are entitled to have an exclusive, common and definite symbol.

The Election Symbols (Reservation and Allotment) Order stipulates that a political outfit would be recognised as a state-level party only if it has secured at least six percent of the total votes polled in the state besides winning at least two seats in the previous assembly elections or one seat in the Lok Sabha in the previous general elections.

A party, recognised as state-level party in at least four states is known as national party, said Arora.

She sought to impress upon the bench that a political party is given a separate poll symbol throughout the state only after it has proved its political mettle to some extent in previous elections by winning a certain percentage of votes.

This helps people in differentiating serious political parties and candidates from the non-serious ones, she added.

As the bench appeared inclined to allocate separate poll symbols to the three political outfits, Arora argued that the Election Symbols (Reservation and Allotment) Order has also the judicial mandate of the apex court in the Kanhiya Lal case in the mid-1980s.

But with senior advocates like Soli J. Sorabjee, K.K. Venugopal and U.U. Lalit making arguments that a separate symbol was a must for every political party, recognised or otherwise, the bench allocated the symbols to the three new political parties.

Arora then urged the court for an early hearing on a bunch of lawsuits by some other political parties, challenging the poll panel’s Election Symbols (Reservation and Allotment) Order.

The bench slated for hearing in November all the lawsuits, including those by Telugu film star Chiranjeevi’s Praja Rajyam Party and Tamil star Vijayakant’s DMDK, which have questioned the poll panel’s rules for recognising a political outfit and allotment of an election symbol.

The apex court in March had allocated to Praja Rajyam, DMDK and Lok Satta symbols of ‘train engine’, ‘drum’ and ‘whistle’ despite the Election Commission’s opposition.

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