The Delhi High Court on Wednesday reserved its verdict on Election Commission’s plea seeking cancellation of Uttar Pradesh legislator Mukhtar Ansari’s custody parole granted by a trial court for canvassing in the ongoing UP Assembly polls.
“Arguments heard. Judgement reserved,” Justice Mukta said, adding that “this is an issue that warrants concern. What he (Ansari) is getting (custody parole with armed guards) is actually more than bail”.
Ansari, an MLA who recently joined the Bahujan Samaj Party to contest from the Mau assembly seat, was given custody parole till March 4 to enable him campaign in the election.
The high court had on February 17 stayed its operation after the poll panel moved a plea seeking cancellation of his parole saying he may influence witnesses in the 2005 murder case of BJP MLA Krishnanand Rai, in which he is facing trial.
Later the State of Uttar Pradesh, the prosecuting agency and the complainant in BJP MLA’s case had also moved the high court opposing Ansari’s release from a Lucknow jail.
However, their contentions were opposed by Ansari’s counsel, who said the EC claims were baseless and it cannot be the ground to restrict his movement in his constituency as none of the witnesses are from there.
Senior advocates Salman Khurshid and Sudhir Nandrajog, appearing for the leader, said the EC can come to court only in an extraordinary situation.
“Participation of candidates in free and fair election is also a basic structure of the Constitution,” they submitted.
They contended that Ansari has been elected from the Mau seat for a record four times and he was willing to give an undertaking to the court that he will not violate its order.
This was strongly opposed by the poll panel, represented by senior advocate Dayan Krishnan who said the release of the accused has direct impact on conduct of free and fair election in the constituency.
The trial court had on February 16 had granted him custody parole.
EC also said the judgement would have far-reaching consequences on the poll panel’s power. “We have material to oppose the accused parole,” Krishnan argued. He said his release may create fear in the mind of the voters if Ansari was allowed to roam around in the constituency.
The BSP had welcomed the jailed gangster-turned politician and his family after his Qaumi Ekta Dal merged with the party ahead of the UP assembly polls.
The 2005 murder case was transferred from Ghazipur in UP to Delhi by the Supreme Court in 2013 on a plea filed by Alka Rai, wife of Krishnanand Rai. Ansari, who is at present lodged in Lucknow jail, has over 40 criminal cases against him, including that of murder and kidnapping.