Sharad faction to use party name cleared by EC till further orders: SC | Latest News India - Hindustan Times
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Sharad faction to use party name cleared by EC till further orders: SC

ByAbraham Thomas, New Delhi
Feb 20, 2024 08:44 AM IST

The Supreme Court on Monday directed that the EC’s order allotting the name of ‘Nationalist Congress Party-Sharadchandra Pawar’ for the faction led by Sharad Pawar will continue till further orders, even as it sought a response from the group led by his nephew, Ajit Pawar, on a petition against the poll body’s recognition of his faction as the real NCP.

The Supreme Court on Monday directed that the Election Commission (EC)’s order allotting the name of ‘Nationalist Congress Party-Sharadchandra Pawar’ for the faction led by Sharad Pawar will continue till further orders, even as it sought a response from the group led by his nephew, Ajit Pawar, on a petition against the poll body’s recognition of his faction as the real Nationalist Congress Party (NCP).

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“We would like to examine the matter,” a bench of justices Surya Kant and KV Viswanathan said while hearing a petition filed by Sharad Pawar against the poll panel’s order that gave the NCP name and symbol to the faction led by Ajit Pawar and recognised it as the “real” NCP based on its numerical strength in the state legislature.

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The appeal has questioned the basis on which the poll panel arrived at its decision to rule in favour of Ajit Pawar, who joined hands with the Shiv Sena faction led by Eknath Shinde and the BJP, and became a part of the state government as deputy chief minister.

Sharad Pawar also sought an urgent hearing since his side had not been allotted a symbol and the name was an interim measure only for the Rajya Sabha election voting on February 27, which meant that his party would have been subject to the whip of the faction led by his nephew.

The bench gave the poll body three weeks time to respond to the plea. It also gave liberty to Sharad Pawar to move the EC for allocation of the party symbol and directed it to allot it in one week of the application.

The court appeared critical of the EC’s February 6 order on recognising the real NCP. “The order says both of you (factions) violated the party constitution, both of you went against the ‘aims and objective’ and yet no one is disqualified. Just imagine what would happen to the voters, who voted for you,” it said.

It’s directions came as senior advocate Abhishek Manu Singhvi, who appeared for the petitioner, informed the court that there was no clarity on the fate of the Sharad Pawar-led beyond the Rajya Sabha polls, and especially during the budget session in the state assembly from February 26 and also for the Lok Sabha elections this summer.

“I cannot be nameless and symbol-less sitting there in the House. I will be subject to the whip issued by Ajit Pawar faction,” Singhvi said, adding: “Allow me to continue with the name allotted to me till the elections in May and approach the EC for getting a symbol.”

To this, the bench said: “The order passed by the EC on February 6 granting the petitioner the right to use the name ‘NCP-Sharad Chandra Pawar’ for purposes of symbols order shall continue to operate. The petitioner may approach the EC for allocation of symbol. Such request shall be decided by the EC within one week of moving the application.”

Appearing for the Ajit Pawar faction, senior advocate Mukul Rohatgi objected to the relief sought by the rival group. “Let the clock symbol not be allotted. He is coming to the Supreme Court on the strength of an order passed by the EC where I was not heard. I have succeeded twice – both before the EC and the speaker which has recognised me as the real party.”

The bench, however, said: “Ultimately, the voter will vote for Sharad Pawar or Ajit Pawar. Do not underestimate the voter. We have the best and most intelligent electorate in our country. At some stage, let the voter have some say.”

Sharad Pawar described as a victory of voters the Supreme Court ruling that his faction can use the name “NCP-Sharadchandra Pawar” till further orders. “It is a win for the voters as the court observed that the voters of the country should not be undermined and questioned what about the fact that candidates have fought on the ticket of the original party,” he said in a statement.

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