Supreme Court seeks response from Ajit Pawar on plea by Sharad Pawar against ECI decision to recognize Ajit faction as NCP

Supreme Court seeks response from Ajit Pawar on plea by Sharad Pawar against ECI decision to recognize Ajit faction as NCP

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Ajit Pawar and Sharad Pawar

Ajit Pawar and Sharad Pawar Facebook

The Supreme Court on Monday sought responses from Ajit Pawar and the Election Commission of India (ECI) to a plea by Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) leader Sharad Pawar challenging the decision of the ECI to recognise the Ajit Pawar faction as the real NCP [Sharad Pawar vs Ajit Anantrao Pawar and anr].

A bench of Justices Surya Kant and KV Viswanathan also allowed the Sharad Pawar camp to continue using the name Nationalist Congress Party – Sharadchandra Pawar in the interim, according to a February 7 decision of the poll body.

The ECI was asked to decide on the Sharad Pawar camp’s application for a new symbol within a week.

“Issue notice. Counter-affidavit to be filed in two weeks, rejoinder if any within one week thereafter … Order of the Election Commission dated 7th February, granting the petitioner right to use name NCP Sharadchandra Pawar as per Symbols Order, shall continue“, the bench directed.

The case will be taken up next after three weeks.

Justice Surya Kant and Justice KV Viswanathan

Sharad Pawar moved the Supreme Court challenging the February 6 decision of the ECI to recognise the faction led by his nephew Ajit Pawar as the NCP.

The dispute arose after a rebellion by the Ajit Pawar group led to a split in the party in July 2023. The Ajit Pawar faction currently supports the ruling Eknath Shinde government in Maharashtra.

The poll body in its order noted that the total number of NCP MLAs in Maharashtra State assembly stood at 81. Out of this, Ajit Pawar submitted affidavits of 57 MLAs in his support while Sharad Pawar had only 28 affidavits.

The ECI rejected the application of test of majority in the organisational wing of the party as the details of the organisational structure of the party, its members and their elections appeared to be without any foundational basis.

This led to the appeal before the apex court.

During today’s hearing, Senior Advocate Dr. Abhishek Manu Singhvi appeared for Sharad Pawar, and stated that his client would now have to obey the whip of Ajit Pawar if the Court does not grant relief.

Senior Advocate Mukul Rohatgi appearing for Ajit Pawar stated that the facts in this case are different from the Uddhav Thackeray and Eknath Shinde case concerning the split in Shiv Sena.

Justice Viswanathan remarked that the ECI had found that both the factions had violated the party constitution.

Further, the bench remarked that Indian voters are smart enough to know whom to vote for if both the factions contest separately in future.

The bench then proceeded to issue notice, and listed the matter for hearing after three weeks.

Senior Advocate Maninder Singh appeared for the ECI.

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