Kerala Congress leadership issue: HC upholds EC order | India News – Times of India



NEW DELHI: The Kerala High Court has upheld the order passed by the Election Commission in the internal dispute in Kerala Congress (Mani), which recognized the faction led by Rajya Sabha MP Jose K Mani as the real party and “entitled” it to the use of ‘two leaves’ symbol. The order was passed by EC on August 30 by 2:1 majority, with election commissioner Ashok Lavasa being the dissenting voice.
Jose Mani, son of party founder K M Mani, had been locked in a bitter factional feud with rival and Kerala MLA P J Joseph, working chairman of the party, after K M Mani passed away in April last year.
The EC order was challenged in the Kerala High Court. On Friday, the high court upheld the order in the light of Sadiq Ali judgment of Supreme Court. It ruled: “As both the lists produced by the rival factions were unreliable, the Election Commission proceeded to decide the numerical strength based on majority of members admitted by both sides. Such action of the Commission cannot be found fault with, in the circumstances of the case. It is further to be noted that the Commission based on its decision, not only considering the support of undisputed State Committee members, but also on the numerical strength of legislative party members of the party. Therefore, the Election Commission was justified in adopting a course available to it, in the facts and circumstances of the case.”
On August 30, chief election commissioner Sunil Arora and election commissioner Sushil Chandra in their majority order had cited the test of majority support principle upheld by Supreme Court in the Sadiq Ali (supra) case, “which is a touchstone for deciding such disputes” in terms of Para 15 of the Symbols Order, to recognise the faction led by Jose Mani, Lavasa in his dissenting order held that it would be hazardous to apply test of majority as the very basis of determining the “majority” appears muddled and difficult to rely upon.
Citing the affidavits submitted in support of Mani as well as Joseph, EC in the majority order put out a table that, after excluding the 5 members who had submitted “common” affidavits, gave the group led by Mani backing of 2 Kerala MLAs, 2 MPs and 174 state committee members.
On the other hand, three MPs and 117 members were supporting the group led by Joseph.
“A mere look at the figures…will evidently demonstrate that Jose K Mani enjoys majority support,” held EC.
Lavasa, in his dissenting order passed a day before end of his stint at EC — marked by his dissenting views on model code complaints against PM Narendra Modi and then BJP chief Amit Shah during 2019 Lok Sabha poll — held that neither of the two factions can be recognised as Kerala Congress (Mani) until fresh affidavits of support are called for by EC.
Lavasa had on July 2 suggested to EC to seek fresh affidavits of support, which was not accepted by Arora and Chandra on the grounds that assembly polls were less than a year away and there could be horsetrading.


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