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Arvind Kejriwal’s bribery remarks: HC asks EC for code of conduct

New Delhi :  The Delhi High Court Tuesday asked the Election Commission to place before it the model code of conduct (MCC), which EC claims was violated by Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal by his bribery remarks during the Goa Assembly election campaign.

Justice Yogesh Khanna said he wants to see the MCC which according to the EC was violated by Kejriwal and hence an order of censure, and later a direction for lodging an FIR, was issued against him by the poll panel in January last year.

The court asked EC to place the MCC before it by the next date of hearing on January 17.

Kejriwal’s lawyers, during the hearing, sought that till the matter is before the court, the EC be asked not to take any action against him, especially in view of commencement of poll campaigning in Haryana in January.

The court, however, refused to grant any interim relief to the chief minister, saying it wants to see the model code of conduct first.

The court was hearing an application moved by the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) convenor seeking a stay on the poll panel’s censure order of January 21, 2017 which said that if he in future repeated such remarks, it would take action against him and his party.

Kejriwal, in his plea filed through advocates Rishikesh Kumar and Mohammad Irshad, has contended that such an order amounts to “curtailing” his freedom of speech and expression guaranteed under the Constitution of India.

His lawyers also told the court that no FIR has been lodged against him as ordered by the EC and the issue is pending before a magisterial court in Goa.

The lawyers further said that similar remarks were made by him during the Delhi Legislative Assembly polls in 2014 and a complaint was moved in a lower court by a private person for action against him for bribery and corruption.

However, the trial court had said no case of bribery or corruption was made out against him and despite the decision not being challenged, EC had issued the censure order curtailing his freedom of speech.

Kejriwal’s application for stay of the two orders of the EC was moved in his main petition in which he has sought setting aside of the two decisions.

The poll panel had earlier orally told the high court that only a complaint case against Kejriwal was pending in a Goa court for his alleged bribery remarks at election rallies in the state on January 7-8 last year and no FIR was lodged as directed by the EC.

During a series of rallies in Goa on January 7-8, Kejriwal had asked voters to “accept money from the Congress and BJP candidates but vote for the AAP”.

The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) had filed two complaints against the AAP supremo, seeking his prosecution under various sections of the Indian Penal Code (IPC) for asking voters to accept money. The Congress too had condemned the Delhi chief minister’s statement.

The poll panel had, thereafter, directed that a complaint be lodged against Kejriwal under the provisions of the Representation of the People Act dealing with bribing voters and the relevant sections of the IPC.

PTI 
18/12/2018

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