We have found our powers: Election Commission

New Delhi: A day after it pulled up the Election Commission (EC) for not acting against politicians for hate speeches, the Supreme Court on Tuesday took note of the poll panel’s action against four leaders of different parties for violating the poll code saying, “It seems the EC has woken up to its power”.

Meanwhile, the court also refused to consider BSP supremo Mayawati’s plea challenging a 48-hour gag order slapped on her by the poll panel.

The EC had on Monday barred Uttar Pradesh chief minister Yogi Adityanath and Samajwadi Party leader Azam Khan from election campaigning for 72 hours for violating the model code of conduct.

BSP chief Mayawati and Union minister Maneka Gandhi were ordered not to campaign for 48 hours for the same offence.

The action came within minutes of the top court expressing displeasure over the EC’s submission that it is “powerless and toothless” to act against such violations.

The EC’s stand that it was helpless against model code violators had riled the bench led by Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi, who initially threatened to summon CEC Sunil Arora to face the court’s questions.

On Tuesday, a bench headed by Chief Justice Gogoi said, “It seems the Election Commission has woken up to its power and taken action against politicians.”

The poll panel’s senior counsel Aryama Sundaram nodded and said, “We found we have powers.”

The bench, which also comprised Justices Deepak Gupta and Sanjiv Khanna, observed that no further order was required after the EC’s action and asked the petitioner — NRI Harpreet Mansukhani from UAE — to mention the case in future if required.

During the hearing, senior counsel Dushyant Dave, appearing for Ms Mayawati, challenged the ban imposed on her, calling it a “drastic” step that has disrupted her campaign schedule.

He pleaded for an urgent hearing but the CJI said that the challenge against EC order should be made in a separate petition and refused to entertain his plea.

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