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The Supreme Court (SC) today (Wednesday, May 8) said that in the petition filed by Congress MP Sushmita Dev, it cannot go into the merits of Election Commission’s (EC) orders giving clean chits to Prime Minister Narendra Modi and BJP President Amit Shah.

A bench led by Chief Justice of India Ranjan Gogoiasked for a separate plea specifically challenging the EC order.

The Bench of Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi with Justice Deepak Gupta was told today by EC counsels Rakesh Dwivedi and Advocate Amit Sharma that the poll panel has decided on the eleven complaints against Prime Minister Modi and Shah.

“These orders have not been challenged,” Dwiveditold the Court.

Senior Counsel Abhishek Manu Singhvi, arguing for the petitioner, submitted that these orders were passed without giving any reason for the same.

The Court, however, observed that the petition filed by Dev was against EC’s inaction in dealing with the complaints of alleged violations of Model Code of Conduct by Modi and Shah in their election speeches.

Since the poll panel has disposed of all the pending complaints against Modii and Shah, the matter stands infructuous and the merits of the orders can be challenged only in an independent petition, said the CJI-led bench.

Abhishek Manu Singhvi, the counsel appearing for Dev, also raised the issue of Modi terming late Rajiv Gandhi “bhrashtachari no.1” in an election speech. However, the court said it would not examine this as the scope of the plea cannot be expanded.

The petition filed by Dev contends that the Election Commission has been slow to act on multiple complaints concerning “frequent and habitual violations” of the MCC by Modi and Shah. The slow response of the Commission on these complaints was contended to be a tacit endorsement of Modi’s and Shah’s conduct, in effect giving them a clean chit despite MCC violations.

The Supreme Court had directed the Commission to decide on the complaints by May 6. On that date, after it came to light that the Commission had given a clean chit to Modi and Shah, it was argued in Court that the Commission has not supplied dissent opinions in its decision. The case was then adjourned for May 8.

Meanwhile, Dev filed an additional affidavit in the matter, alleging discrimination and arbitrariness by the Election Commission in favour of Modi and Shah. Dev alleged that EC had not applied its mind properly in the complaints, and that the orders were passed belatedly in order to give undue edge to the BJP. It also complained that the Election Commission’s clean chits were “arbitrary and opaque”.

The affidavit also states that that the Commission acted against various other political leaders for statements which were similar in tone, tenor, meaning, purport and intention.

Dev has also alluded to the fact that one of the Election Commissioners dissented in these orders and that dissenting opinion has been withheld by the Commission in its orders. This amounts to complete lack of transparency and arbitrariness in the decision-making process when it comes to complaints against Modi and Shah, the affidavit states.

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