The Supreme Court on Wednesday told Awaaz-e-Punjab convenor and former BJP MP Navjot Singh Sidhu to face trial for alleged electoral malpractices in the 2009 general elections.
The Supreme Court on Wednesday told Awaaz-e-Punjab convenor and former BJP MP Navjot Singh Sidhu to face trial for alleged electoral malpractices in the 2009 general elections. He had won from Amritsar Lok Sabha constituency.
A bench of Justices Ranjan Gogoi and A.M. Sapre, disposing of his appeal, said the Punjab and Haryana high court will decide the election petition on allegations of excess spending by Mr Sidhu on advertisements and facilitating transfer of a gazetted officer in Punjab, who allegedly helped him in winning the election.
The proceedings in the high court at the instance of the defeated Congress candidate, Om Prakash Soni, will only be an academic exercise. The bench, however, absolved Mr Sidhu of charges of excess spending for public meetings on the ground that Mr Soni had not given adequate material to substantiate the charges, though he backed the allegations of excess spending for advertisements. The bench made it clear that it would not go into allegations of Mr Soni that the returning officer did not entertain his complaint of irregularities in counting of votes, as the Lok Sabha stood dissolved for that particular period and no useful purpose would be served by dealing with the allegations now. It was the case of Mr Soni that for media ads alone, he incurred Rs 32,88,845, which is in excess of the total prescribed limit of Rs 25 lakh.
The bench rejected Mr Sidhu's arguments that Mr Soni had failed to furnish adequate material evidence in support of the allegations.
The bench in its order said, "In our considered view, it cannot be said that full particulars of the allegation of corrupt practice have not been set out by the election petitioner. The dates on which the advertisements had appeared; the particulars of the newspapers in which such advertisements were published; the cost incurred for each type of advertisement in each newspaper, have all been mentioned."
The apex court, however, rejected Mr Soni's allegations that Mr Sidhu had given misleading details of expenditure incurred by him for public meetings held on different dates and at different venues, as it was much more than what has been shown in the return of election expenses under the relevant head (Rs 1,83,466).
"We do not find any basis as to how the election petitioner (Mr Soni) had arrived at the quantum of expenses which he alleges to have been incurred by the returned candidate in holding each of the said meetings. What are the source(s) of information of the election petitioner with regard to the details furnished; whether he has personal knowledge of any of the said meetings..." the bench said.