The Madhya Pradesh High Court has dismissed a petition challenging the election of Bharatiya Janata Party Lok Sabha member Pragya Singh Thakur from Bhopal on grounds of giving "communal speeches" after neither the petitioner nor his counsel appeared in the case despite getting repeated opportunities.
A single bench of Justice Vishal Dhagat dismissed the plea on December 12 and also cited two previous cases in which the issued raised in the application had been settled.
“In view of aforesaid, since the petitioner is not appearing despite repeated opportunities being granted to him, therefore, the election petition is dismissed for want of prosecution," the judge said.
Bhopal resident Rakesh Dixit had filed the petition, alleging Thakur had given "communal speeches and incited religious sentiment" to win the 2019 Lok Sabha election in violation of section 123 of the Representation of the People Act.
The section deals with corrupt practices, which include appeal by a candidate or his/her agent to vote or refrain from voting for any person on the ground of religion, race, caste, community or language.
The HC noted the petitioner's counsel also did not appear in the court to argue in favour of the plea.
“None appeared for the petitioner on 11.10.2022, 23.11.2022 and on 29.11.2022. Despite the circular of cause list and knowledge of listing, counsel for the petitioner is not appearing in the case. Repeated opportunities were granted to the petitioner to argue the case on preliminary issue," according to the court order.
The court order mentioned two cases in which law on the issue had been settled - P Nalla Thampy Thera Dr Vs BL Shanker (AIR 1984 SC 135) and Punjab & Haryana 268-Gurmesh Bishnoi Vs Bhajan Lal (AIR 2003).
The petitioner, to buttress his accusations, had incorporated CDs of the BJP leader's speeches and clippings of news reports along with the plea.
Thakur defeated Congress stalwart and two-time chief minister Digvijaya Singh with a huge margin of 3,64,822 votes in 2019 from the Bhopal Lok Sabha seat, which the saffron party has been winning since 1989.