Uddhav Thackeray Moves Delhi HC to Challenge ECI’s Decision to Freeze Shiv Sena’s Name & Symbol

Delhi High Court Law Insider

Khushi Bajpai

Published on: October 11, 2022 at 20:45 IST

Uddhav Thackeray, former Chief Minister of Maharashtra, filed a petition with the Delhi High Court on Monday to challenge the Election Commission of India’s (ECI) decision to freeze the Shiv Sena’s “bow and arrow” symbol and the party name ahead of the Andheri East bypoll, despite the Shinde faction’s hints that it may run a candidate for the bypoll.

Uddhav Thackeray said in his appeal to the HC that the ECI’s interim order from October 8 was taken in flagrant breach of the norms of natural justice and without providing the parties with a hearing or a chance to present evidence.

In contrast to Thackeray, who has 15 MLAs and 7 Lok Sabha MPs, Shinde enjoys the support of 39 of the party’s MLAs and 12 of its 19 Lok Sabha MPs.

Thackeray said in his appeal to the HC that the ECI’s interim order from October 8 was issued in flagrant disregard of natural justice principles and without providing the parties a chance to be heard or present evidence.

The petition stated that Respondent No. 1 (ECI), a quasi-judicial body, “has an established prior practice of passing any order freezing the electoral symbol during pendency of a petition only after hearing the factions/parties before it.”

The two Shiv Sena factions, commanded by Thackeray and chief minister Eknath Shinde, were instructed by the Election Commission not to use the name “Shiv Sena” or the emblem “bow and arrow” during the next by-election.

The commission asked them to submit three alternative name suggestions as well as three unrestricted symbol suggestions by Monday in order to assign them to their respective groups during the ongoing dispute between the two factions regarding majority support in the Sena’s legislative and organizational wings.

The ECI and CM Shinde are parties to Thackeray’s appeal, which calls for the revocation of the ECI order.

The plea stated that if the impugned order is not stayed, “grave prejudice will be caused to the petitioner (Thackeray) and his party since bye-elections have been notified in the State of Maharashtra for 166-Andheri East constituency for which the last date of nominations is October 14, 2022 and the date of poll is November 3.”

The Shiv Sena is poised to suffer a crushing defeat in the Andheri East byelection as well as in the local body polls, particularly the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation elections, which are scheduled for the end of this year or the beginning of 2023.

Both the Shiv Sena and the Shinde-BJP coalition will be put to the test in these polls.

After the team Uddhav filed a complaint with the Delhi high court earlier in the day on Monday against the EC’s urgency in making a decision, State Education Minister Deepak Kesarkar of the Shinde faction stated that they may field a candidate for the bypoll.

“Even though we have chosen to fight the election as an alliance, we have not given the seat to the BJP. We still have the ability to challenge it, and top leaders from both parties will make the final decision,” Kesarkar said.

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