The Delhi High Court on Monday issued a notice to the Election Commission (EC) on a plea filed by Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal challenging two orders which censured him and ordered the lodging of an FIR against him for violating the model code of conduct.
Justice Indermeet Kaur asked the Election Commission to respond to the plea by February 2, 2018.
In January while exhorting the voters in poll-bound Goa to accept bribes, Kejriwal had asked them “to accept money from the Congress and BJP candidates but vote for the AAP”.
The Commission had on January 29 also directed the Chief Electoral Officer of Goa to file an FIR against Kejriwal for accusing the poll body of promoting bribery.
The Commission was “anguished” that Kejriwal had committed such a violation of the model code for the second time (during the Goa Assembly polls) despite a warning issued to him during the 2015 Delhi Assembly polls.
Kejriwal in his plea, through advocate Rishikesh Kumar, said that the Election Commission’s order infringed his right to free speech and expression.
“The order infringes upon the petitioner’s fundamental right of speech and expression as promised under Article 19 of the Indian Constitution. The petitioner being a political activist, censuring him made him incur a huge setback because of his inability to take part in political rallies and thereby hindering his bona fide activism towards a bribe free and corruption free society.”
Kejriwal denies that he has “deliberately or intentionally instigated the public” of Delhi or Goa to take a bribe for voting and has thereby abetted the offence of bribery during the electoral process.
The petition stated that Kejriwal had “merely canvassed the voters to cast their ballot in favour of the Aam Aadmi Party” without being influenced by any corrupt practice which may be practiced by any person connected with the electoral process.
“The petitioner only meant to say that if allurements are offered by any person or party, it will be within the prerogative of the voters to accept the same if they desire but without being influenced by such gratification, they may vote and choose AAP to eradicate corruption,” the plea added.