Sonal Bhargava |Prabhat Bandhulya
The Bombay High Court on Thursday reserved its decision on the petitions filed by Maharashtra former State home minister Anil Deshmukh and cabinet minister Nawab Malik seeking permission to vote in the upcoming MLC elections in Maharashtra.
The two had approached the High Court on the grounds that they should be allowed to vote in the elections as Ministers of the Legislative Assembly.
On June 17, single-judge Justice NJ Jamadar will rule on whether the two ministers can be temporarily released from judicial custody with police escorts in order to vote in the upcoming elections on June 20.
The Enforcement Directorate (ED), represented by Additional Solicitor General Anil Singh, challenged the petitions, claiming that Section 62(5) of the Representation of Anyone Act clearly prohibited people in prison from voting.
Malik's senior Advocate, Amit Desai, argued that while the Act restricts casting votes, it does not take away the Court's discretion to allow release.
He stressed that the Court should favour democratic processes until there are broader difficulties, such as law and order issues. He argued that if the election is likely to be tainted by someone failing to vote, the Court must intervene.
Senior Advocate Vikram Chaudhri argued that ED's legal argument that the Court cannot exercise discretion is risky.
"The Court will always have discretion, my fettered right versus your lordship's unfettered discretion. Because there is an embargo (under Section 62(5)), we are here for a release, had there been no embargo; we wouldn't have had to come," Chaudhari said.