Yogendra Yadav-led Swaraj India’s plea for a common symbol in the upcoming MCD polls was today dismissed by the Delhi High Court.
The high court dismissed the party’s plea, saying since the electronic voting machines would now carry photographs of the candidates, it would not be put to any disadvantage if there was no common symbol.
As the plea was filed after several steps in the electoral process had started, it was “very late in the day for the court to interfere,” Justice Hima Kohli noted.
Earlier, on March 23, the High Court had asked the Delhi poll panel whether it intends to give a common symbol to political parties like Yogendra Yadav-led Swaraj India, which are registered but unrecognised.
The court had posed the query to the commission after senior advocate Shanti Bhushan, appearing for Swaraj India, submitted that a letter was sent to the Delhi government to consider amending the rules for allotment of common symbols to registered but unrecognised political parties.
Bhushan had made the submissions during arguments on a plea challenging the commissions’s decision not to allot a common symbol to Swaraj India to contest the upcoming MCD polls.
Swaraj India claimed that non-allotment of a common symbol to a registered party amounted to discrimination as the Aam Aadmi Party was granted such a relief when it had contested for the first time.
Swaraj India has sought quashing of the panel’s March 14, 2017 notification and an April 2016 order which said the nominees of such parties would be treated as independent candidates for allotment of symbols.
Swaraj India was floated in October last year by Yadav and advocate Prashant Bhushan, who were expelled from the AAP after they questioned Arvind Kejriwal’s leadership.
The party, registered by the Election Commission of India (ECI) in February 2017, has contended that the Delhi symbols order was “wholly illegal, arbitrary, capricious, unreasonable and selective, destroying the very fairness of the proposed electoral process itself”.
It has said that providing it a common symbol will create a level playing field among all the political parties, whether recognised or not, and ensure free and fair election.
It has also challenged the February 21, 2017 and March 7, 2017, orders of the poll panel declining the party’s request for a common symbol.
The party has contended that the panel rejected its request for a symbol despite a provision in the ECI rules to provide a common symbol to a registered but unrecognised political party like Swaraj India, which is set to make its election debut in the April 23 MCD polls.
The party said the ECI’s Election Symbols (Reservation and Allotment) (Amendment) Order allows newly registered political parties to have a common symbol for all their candidates for contesting their first election.
The party has claimed that states like Maharashtra, Andhra Pradesh, Haryana, West Bengal, Kerala, Sikkim and Tripura follow the rule.