KC(M) Jose faction gets ‘two leaves’

High Court upholds Election Commission decision on symbol

Upholding the decision of the Election Commission of India (ECI), the Kerala High Court on Friday confirmed the allocation of “two leaves” election symbol to the Kerala Congress (M) faction led by Jose K. Mani.

The court passed the order while considering two writ petitions — one filed by P.J. Joseph, the working chairman of Kerala Congress (M), and the other by a member of the party — against the order of the ECI.

The ECI had earlier held that the group led by Mr. Mani was the Kerala Congress (M), which was entitled to use its name and its symbol “two leaves” for the purpose of the Election Symbols (Reservation and Allotment) Order, 1968.

The court, which found no reason to interfere with the order of the ECI, dismissed the petition filed by Mr. Joseph. According to the court, election symbols are essential in India where literacy level of voters are not satisfactory. It is also a statutory requirement under the Conduct of Elections Rules, 1961.

As there was no statutory provision regulating allocation of symbols to political parties and candidates in elections, the duty and power to regulate allocation of symbols vested with the ECI, the court said.

Allocation of election symbols is intended to maintain purity in elections. Any order passed by the ECI in allocating election symbol to a rival faction of a political party cannot have a direct impact on registration of a political party, it said.

A decision taken by the ECI on the symbol is not tentative, but final. When a Constitutional functionary exercises powers and passes orders which are final in nature, subject only to judicial review under Constitutional provisions, it cannot be said that such Constitutional functionary’s jurisdiction is peripheral, the court observed.

The court noted that the ECI came to the conclusion that there were two factions in the KC(M) based on materials available before it. The conclusion of the commission cannot be said to be perverse. The court cannot interfere with the said finding of fact, the order said.

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