The Supreme Court on Wednesday refused to adjourn the appeal of dismissed BSF jawan Tej Bahadur Yadav challenging Narendra Modi’s election from Varanasi in 2019.
“No, we can’t adjourn the matter. You are abusing the process of law…you go ahead with the matter. We have already adjourned the matter many times. This is an important case which revolves around the unique office of the Prime Minister. You have made the Prime Minister the respondent. We cannot keep it pending indefinitely,” Chief Justice of India S.A. Bobde, heading a bench also comprising Justices A.S. Bopanna and V. Ramasubramanian, told the counsel for Yadav.
A bench headed by Chief Justice S.A. Bobde made the observation while refusing to accede to the request of, advocate appearing for Tej Bahdur for either adjourning the case of at least pass over the case. In legal parlance, adjournment refers to postponement of the hearing to a later date, while passover is done only for a few minutes or hours, but the matter is heard on the same day.
Besides challenging the rejection of his nomination papers, Yadav wanted the result of Modi’s win set aside and declared as “void”.
The returning officer for the constituency had rejected Yadav’s nomination papers on May 1, 2019, on the ground that he had concealed the factum of his dismissal from service upon conviction in April 2017, which was a ground for disqualification for contesting elections for a period of six years under the election rules.
As soon as the case, which was listed as Item No. 1 on the agenda came up for hearing on Wednesday, Yadav’s counsel repeatedly urged the court to adjourn the matter to help him fully prepare with the case.
However, the CJI rejected the plea saying the matter was already adjourned on a number of occasions. “As far as I remember, I myself had heard the matter four times while sitting with my brother Justice Bopanna,” Justice Bobde said.
The counsel insisted that if not adjournment the court should at least pass over the matter.
But the CJI refused to concede the plea. “We can’t give you indefinite time to hear this case. You show us the evidence. Is it so important to take passover in the case? The adjournments have gone so long for three months in the case,” Justice Bobde said.
In response to query from the bench, the counsel said Yadav had filed two nomination papers — one as an Independent and another as a Samajwadi Party candidate.
“This is a case going for long time, please carry on,” the CJI told the counsel, after he again insisted that the matter be either adjourned or passed over. The court also briefly heard senior advocate Harish Salve appearing for Modi. The senior advocate told the bench that the high court had rightly dismissed his plea as the petitioner had failed to furnish the relevant details sought by the returning officer.The bench later reserved the verdict. The apex court will pronounce the judgment either on Friday or next week.
Yadav, earlier dismissed by the Centre after he alleged on social media that substandard food was served to soldiers on the border, had filed two nomination papers for the Varanasi seat — one as an Independent candidate on April 24, 2019, and another as a SP candidate on April 23, 2019.
He had challenged the rejection of his nomination papers in Allahabad High Court pleading that although he was dismissed from service of Government of India, the dismissal was not on the ground of corruption or disloyalty to the State, which in terms of Section 9 and Section 33(3) of The Representation of the People Act, 1951, would have acted as a bar from his contesting the election.
However, the high court on December 6, 2019, dismissed his plea on the ground that Yadav had no locus standi (legal right) as he was neither a voter nor a resident of Varanasi and as such his election petition was not maintainable.