In a relief for Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who is under severe criticism from the opposition both inside the parliament and out of it after his landmark move calling for demonetization on November 8, the Allahabad High Court has dismissed a petition filed by Ajay Rai, a congress MLA who had contested against the PM for the Varanasi Lok Sabha seat in 2014 and lost. Rai had filed a petition seeking to cancel the PM’s nomination from the Varanasi constituency.
A single judgebench of Justice Vikram Nath dismissed the petition, calling it“half-hearted, vague and bald statements, based on media reports.” The judge added that “no material has been placed on record to make the petition triable”. The counsels defending PM Modi were led by Satya Pal Jain, a BJP leader and the Additional Solicitor General of India, who argued that the petition was “not maintainable” and prayed for dismissing “in limine”. ‘In Limine’ is a legal term which essentially means preliminary, and asks a court to dismiss a case on technical or legal points, before the actual case referred to or heard. Rai’s petition was argued for by a team of lawyers which included senior high court advocate Umesh Narain Sharma, a former head of the legal cell of the Congress party’s state unit of UP.
The petitioner, Ajay Rai, is a sitting Congress MLA from Pindra, one of the two tehsils in the district of Varanasi. Rai had claimed that Modi, in 2014 while contesting from the Varanasi Lok Sabha Constituency, had filed discrepancies in his nomination papers, incurred unaccounted expenditure on the election campaign trail and had also misused religious sentiments to garner votes. All these claims were rejected by the Allahabad High Court as being ‘untriable’.
There has been no official comment on this issue from either the Congress or the BJP. MLA Ajay Rai was unavailable for comment. The PMO is yet to issue a statement either. PM Modi won the Varanasi Lok Sabha Constituency seat in 2014 on his way to become the Prime Minister of the country.