The Delhi High Court Tuesday directed former Delhi chief minister Arvind Kejriwal and former minister Somnath Bharti to respond within two weeks on a plea seeking cancellation of their election for exceeding the expenditure limit in assembly polls.
The court sought their response by April 17 on petitions by Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leaders Vijender Gupta and Arti Mehra alleging that Kejriwal and Bharti each spent beyond the statutory limit of Rs.14 lakh.
Justice Vipin Sanghi granted two more weeks' time to Kejriwal, as sought by his counsel on Gupta's plea. Justice G.S. Sistani too asked Bharti to respond on Mehra's plea within two weeks.
During the hearing, Justice Sistani asked the BJP leaders' counsel about the effect of the chief minister's resignation in the case.
"What is the effect of resignation of chief minister on this petition? What will be the effect if you succeeded in the case," asked the court.
The BJP leaders lawyer replied: "It's an election petition. Resignation of CM will have no effect in the case and the case can carry on after his resignation. They (Kejriwal and Bharti) can't contest election for six years if we succeed."
They alleged that the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) leaders spent more than Rs.17 lakh each in the elections held Dec 4 and urged the high court to declare their election null and void.
As per the Election Commission, every candidate can spend Rs.14 lakh on an assembly election, said Gupta, former chief of the Delhi BJP. Mehra is former city mayor.
Both Kejriwal and Bharti indulged in "corrupt practices" and incurred huge expenditure of nearly Rs 94.80 lakh during the campaign by organising a rock show "Jeet Ki Gunj, Vote for Change" Nov 23, 2013 at Jantar Mantar after filing their nomination papers. Many singers and Bollywood personalities performed at the event and all of them charged Rs.3-10 lakh, which was paid by Kejriwal, Gupta alleged.
Filing the petitions through advocate Ajay Digpaul, Gupta moved the court against Kejriwal, his rival from the New Delhi constituency.
Mehra moved court against Bharti, who defeated her in the Malviya Nagar constituency. The plea said Kejriwal influenced voters through such a massive concert, thereby affecting the outcome of the election.
"The concert was advertised through newspapers, TV and radio to attract voters. Elaborate arrangements were put in place and the programme was attended by more than 20,000 people," said the plea.
The BJP leaders accused Kejriwal and Bharti of violating the Model Code of Conduct issued by the Election Commission, the provisions of the Representation of People Act and also the principles of the Constitution on free and fair elections.