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Apex court rejects plea on election symbols

Delhi,Immigration/Law/Rights, Wed, 18 Apr 2012 IANS

New Delhi, April 18 (IANS) The Supreme Court Wednesday upheld the Election Commission's order setting criteria for the allocation of election symbols to the registered and recognised political parties.


Justice Altamas Kabir and Justice S.S. Nijaar, two of the three judges on a bench of the apex court, in their majority judgment rejected the plea of a number of registered but unrecognised political parties for allocation of permanent poll symbol.


Justice J. Chelameswar, the third judge, gave a dissenting judgment and held that the poll panel's order for the allocation on election symbols was violative of the constitution's Article 14, granting equality before law and had no rational nexus to the objective to be achieved.


Justice Kabir said: "The Election Commission has set a benchmark which is not unreasonable. In order to gain recognition as a political party, a party has to prove itself and to establish its credibility as a serious player in the political arena of the state."


"Once it succeeds in doing so, it will become entitled to all the benefits of recognition, including the allotment of a common symbol," the majority judgment said.


The court said this while dismissing petitions by DMDK and Colonel Edwin Jesudoss (retd) and several other petitions, challenging the constitutional validity of the amendment of the Election Symbols (Reservation and Allotment) Order, 1968.


The amendment said that in order to be recognised as a state level political party it was mandatory for a party to secure not less than six percent of the total valid votes polled in the state and should send at least two elected members to the legislative assembly.


The notification on the amendment was issued Dec 1, 2000.


The DMDK which secured 8.33 percent votes in the Tamil Nadu assembly election was denied recognition as a state level party because it failed to send the minimum number of two legislators to the assembly.


Justice Chelameswar, in his dissenting judgment, said: "I would hold that the Symbols Order, insofar as it denies the reservation of a symbol for the exclusive allotment of the candidates set up by a political party with insignificant poll performance, is violative of Article 14 of the constitution of India."


Holding that if democracy was all about numbers then Hitler was a great democrat, Justice Chelameswar said: "In my opinion, this court, failed to appreciate that in a democratic set up, while the majorities rule, minorities are entitled to protection. Otherwise, the mandate of Article 14 would be meaningless. If democracies are all about only numbers, Hitler was a great democrat."


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