New Delhi: The Allahabad High Court on Friday adjourned its hearing till September 30 on a petition challenging the election of Prime Minister Narendra Modi from Varanasi Lok Sabha constituency. Appearing on behalf of Modi, Additional Solicitor General of India Satya Pal Jain submitted that the allegations levelled by the petitioner Ajay Rai lacked critical and material facts and hence the election petition deserved to be dismissed in limine .
Jain contended that Rai, a Congress MLA who had contested from Varanasi in the Lok Sabha polls, had failed to prove that there was anything in Modi’s election which violated provisions of the Representation of People Act or the Constitution and hence his petition was not maintainable. Citing a number of landmark judgements on election law, Jain claimed that a number of allegations levelled against Modi relate to the period before he had filed his nomination papers from Varanasi and were, therefore, of no relevance .
However, it was requested by one of Rai’s advocates Jitendra Kumar that the lead counsel Umesh Narain Sharma was unwell and out of station for medical treatment and hence time be granted so that the petitioner’s side could reply to the arguments placed forward by the respondent. The court, therefore, fixed September 30 as the next date of hearing in the matter.
Rai had filed the election petition in June 2014, shortly after results for the general elections were declared wherein the BJP gained a majority, putting up its best-ever performance. Modi won from Varanasi by defeating Arvind Kejriwal of Aam Aadmi Party by 3.7 lakh votes, the biggest margin so far for the eastern Uttar Pradesh seat. Rai finished a distant third and ended up forfeiting his deposit.
Modi went on to retain Varanasi, giving up Vadodara in his home state of Gujarat where he had achieved an even bigger victory by a margin of 5.7 lakh votes. Interestingly, Rai had began his political career in the 1990s as a BJP MLA from Kolasla constituency in Varanasi district. He broke away in 2009 when the party refused to give him a ticket for the Lok Sabha polls.