Maharashtra

‘Clock’ symbol case: SC asks Ajit Pawar-led NCP to give details of ads issued following its order

The Supreme Court on Wednesday asked Ajit Pawar-led Nationalist Congress Party to furnish details of newspaper advertisements issued in compliance of its order which instructed the faction to run all publicity with disclaimer that the matter of allocation of 'clock' symbol to it is sub judice.

New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Wednesday asked Ajit Pawar-led Nationalist Congress Party to furnish details of newspaper advertisements issued in compliance of its order which instructed the faction to run all publicity with disclaimer that the matter of allocation of ‘clock’ symbol to it is sub judice.

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A bench of Justices Surya Kant and KV Viswanathan asked senior advocate Mukul Rohatgi, appearing for the faction led by the Maharashtra deputy chief minister, to furnish the details of advertisements issued after Sharad Pawar alleged that they are not complying with the court’s March 19 order.

The bench said, “Mr Rohatgi you have your instructions on how many advertisements were issued after this order. We might be required to take a view if he (Ajit Pawar) is behaving like this. Nobody has a right to deliberately misconstrue our order.”

Senior advocate Abhishek Singhvi, appearing for Sharad Pawar, said that on March 19, this court passed a reasoned order in which they (Ajit Pawar group) were asked to issue advertisements that the matter of allocation of ‘clock’ symbol is sub judice before this court and they were permitted to use the same subject to final outcome of these proceedings.

“Now, they have not complied with the direction and advertisements are being issued by them without the disclaimer. They have even filed an application before this court, seeking relaxation of the reasoned order. This cannot be changed. We are in the middle period of the elections,” Singhvi submitted.

He urged the court to not entertain any such application for review of the order saying they are in the midst of the election.

“Elections are on, your lordships will not entertain such a review. This is nothing but a blatant review. It is a reasoned order. This cannot be changed, we are in the middle of the elections,” Singhvi added.

The bench asked Rohatgi about the application and whether it is listed or not.

Rohatgi replied that it was not listed, and they were only seeking modification of just one line in the order, but they (Sharad Pawar faction) claimed that the top court had decided the matter.

Justice Kant said, “The disclaimer in advertisements should continue till elections.”

Singhvi intervened and said, “In no newspaper this disclaimer is being made and the court’s order is made a mockery of.”

The bench asked Rohatgi to furnish the details and number of advertisements published by the Ajit Pawar-led faction after March 19 saying the order is in simple language and there cannot be any other interpretation.

On March 19, the top court allowed the Sharad Pawar faction to use ‘Nationalist Congress Party-Sharadchandra Pawar’ as its name for the upcoming Lok Sabha and Assembly polls in the country.

It had also permitted the NCP bloc led by the veteran politician to use as its symbol ‘man blowing turha’ (a traditional trumpet also known as tutari).

The top court had directed the Ajit Pawar-led faction to issue a public notice in the newspapers in English, Hindi and Marathi editions notifying that the allocation of ‘clock’ symbol is sub judice before this court and the respondent have been permitted to use the same subject to final outcome of these proceedings.

“Such a declaration shall be incorporated in every pamphlet, advertisement, audio or video clip to be issued by the respondent (NCP) political party,” the top court had said.

It had passed the order on a plea by the Sharad Pawar group seeking to restrain the Ajit Pawar faction from using the ‘clock’ symbol for the polls, as allotted by the Election Commission, on the ground that it is disrupting the level playing field.

The NCP, founded by Sharad Pawar, had ‘clock’ as its election symbol before its split. The symbol is now with the Ajit Pawar faction.

Sharad Pawar had founded the NCP with former Lok Sabha speaker Purno Sangma and Tariq Anwar in 1999 after their expulsion from the Congress.

Ajit Pawar had walked away with a majority of NCP MLAs in July last year and supported the BJP-Shiv Sena government led by Eknath Shinde.

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