The Supreme Court today transferred to the Delhi High Court the plea of Madhya Pradesh minister Narottam Mishra, recently disqualified by the Election Commission, seeking to vote in the Presidential election.
The BJP leader had approached the top court against the Madhya Pradesh High Court order refusing to give him urgent hearing on his plea seeking permission to vote in the election to be held on July 17.
The poll panel had on June 23 disqualified Mishra for three years over paid news charges, holding him guilty of filing wrong accounts of election expenditure relating to articles and advertorials in the media in the 2008 assembly polls.
A bench of Chief Justice J S Khehar and Justice D Y Chandrachud asked senior advocate Mukul Rohatgi, appearing for Mishra, and senior advocate Kapil Sibal, representing Congress leader Rajendra Bharti opposing his plea, to appear before acting Chief Justice of Delhi HC today itself and seek constitution of a bench.
The apex court also said the Delhi HC should hear the matter from tomorrow and asked it to conclude the hearing before the voting for presidential poll.
Earlier in the day, the apex court had agreed to hear his plea after his counsel mentioned the matter before it.
Rohatgi said he has challenged the order of Madhya Pradesh High Court refusing an urgent hearing to his interim prayer to allow him to vote in the presidential election.
The former AG had said he has challenged the disqualification by the Election Commission for the 2008 assembly polls before the High Court which had refused an urgent hearing on the aspect that he be allowed to vote.
He argued that disqualification does not mean that he can be barred from voting. "I have the right for hearing and voting in the presidential election," Rohatgi said.
Disqualifying Mishra from contesting elections for three years following a complaint against him, the commission had used some strong words against paid news, calling it a "cancerous menace" that is assuming "alarming proportions" in the electoral landscape.
His election from the Datia Assembly constituency also stands void.
A full bench of the Election Commission, comprising then Chief Election Commissioner Nasim Zaidi and Election Commissioners A K Joti (now CEC) and O P Rawat, had in its order indicted Mishra and unseated him under various sections of the Representation of the People Act (RPA).
Mishra, who won from Datia assembly constituency, is the minister for water resources and public relations and the chief spokesperson of the Shivraj Singh Chouhan government.
Bharti, the main complainant in the case, had first sent a complaint to the EC about eight years back in 2009.
The order said all the 42 news items that had appeared in five Hindi dailies were "extremely biased in favour of" Mishra.
It had said that its findings had also strengthened the conclusion that he had "knowingly participated or took advantage of the expenditure on such advertisements" that had appeared as news in the publications.