EC decision to register Sapaks Party: Sapaks Samaj founder President files writ petition in HC

Newsroom24x7 Staff

Sapaks founder President Lalit Shastri addressing a Sapaks meeting in April 2017

Bhopal: A writ petition¹ has been filed in the Jabalpur High Court on Wednesday (14 November 2018) challenging the registration of Sapaks Party by the Election Commission of India under Section 29-A of the Representation of People Act, 1951.

The petitioner Lalit Shastri, is a senior journalist and founder President of Sapaks Samaj²(Samanya Pichda Alpsankyak Kalyan Samaj Sanstha), popularly known by its abbreviated name Sapaks Samaj.

The petitioner has said in his petition, now pending before the Jabalpur High Court, that the Election Commission had taken a one-sided decision and registered Sapaks Party without giving him the opportunity to be heard vis-a-vis the objections raised by him. This is against the tenet of natural justice and the order passed by the Election Commission declaring his objections as “unsustainable” is an unreasoned order, Shastri has pointed out.

Shastri has argued through his petition that since there are two voluntary social service organisations “SAPAKS” and “SAPAKS Samaj” working among a vast population in Madhya Pradesh, the registration of a political party with the same name will create confusion among the minds of the people who will assume that the social service organisations are now engaged in politics.

Through his petition, Shastri has sought the quashing of the Election Commission order of 6 November 2018 and the communication to the petitioner on 9 November 2018 passed by the Election Commission as arbitrary and illegal.

It has been pointed out through the petition that the party registered by the name of SAPAKS Party by the Election Commission of India has the same name which is the abbreviated name of a registered organization in Madhya Pradesh, whose members are the employees of the State government of Madhya Pradesh and are Government Servants and their service conditions are governed by the Statutory Rules framed under proviso to Article 309 of the Constitution of India (for instance: M.P. Civil Services, General Condition of Service Rules, 1961) and such Rules contain a specific bar on the employees/Govt. Servants from being associated with any political party. The members of Sapaks Society, formed by Government officers and employees, have been working closely and have deep association with the founders of Sapaks Party. In such circumstances, giving recognition to such political party whose members are barred from being associated with any political party as per their service conditions is contrary to law, however it appears that the aforesaid material aspect has been fraudulently suppressed by the CEO of the party while applying for grant of recognition as SAPAKS under Section 29-A of the Act of 1951. “Thus the order dt. 6/11/2018 impugned being effectuated by fraud, deserves to be quashed in the interest of justice.”

The order dated 06.11.2018, issued by the Election Commission apparently smacks of arbitrariness and what needs to be investigated is the alleged connivance in this matter between the Chief Election Commissioner and the President of Sapaks Party as both of them are retired IAS Officers borne in the same M.P. Cadre and are having good acquaintance with each other, the petition says.

It is to be noted that after the notification had been issued for the Madhya Pradesh Assembly election on 2nd November and the process of filing of nominations had already started, the Election Commission heard the authorised representatives of the applicant party (Sapaks Party) on 2nd November 2018 and taking their reply into consideration vis-a-vis the objection raised by Lalit Shastri and took the one sided “unreasoned” decision to declare the objection as “unsustainable” and register Sapaks Party on 5 November 2018. This decision was communicated to Sapaks Party on 6 November, a day before Diwali and just three days before the expiry of the deadline for filing nominations for the MP Assembly election.

The Election Commission responded to Lalit Shastri’s objection of 4 October 2018 by writing to him on 9 November that the objection raised against registration of a political party under the name “Sapaks” was considered vis-a-vis comments obtained from the applicant. The Election Commission has stated that the objection was found to be “non-maintainable and hence has been rejected”.

On 4th October, 2016, Lalit Shastri, in his capacity as the founder President of Sapaks Samaj, had written to the Election Commission:

“A social service people’s organisation under the name “SAMANYA PICHDA ALPSANKHYAK KALYAN SAMAJ Society” (Popularly called SAPAKS Samaj) is already registered in Madhya Pradesh under the M.P. SOCIETY REGISTRIKARAN ADHINIYAM, 1973. Few prominent members of SAPAKS Samaj, including many of its managing committee members, have got together and applied for registration of a political party and have named it as SAPAKS Party. (https://www.financialexpress.com/india-news/madhya-pradesh-sapaks-to-launch-political-party-on-october-2/1332440/).

Lalit Shastri at a Sapaks rally at Bhind in western Madhya Pradesh – Jan 2017

The name SAPAKS Samaj is associated with a social organisation that is already very popular across Madhya Pradesh.

Another organisation “SAMANYA PICHDA ALPSANKHYAK ADHIKARI KARMCHARI SANSTHA” (SAPAKS), which is also a registered society under the M.P. SOCIETY REGISTRIKARAN ADHINIYAM, 1973, is working extensively in Madhya Pradesh for the cause of State Government officers and employees suffering due to the State Government Provision for Reservation in Promotion for SCs/STs.

Since two voluntary social service organisations “SAPAKS” and “SAPAKS Samaj” are working among a vast population in Madhya Pradesh, the registration of a political party with the same name will create confusion among the minds of the people who will assume that the social service organisations are now engaged in politics.


¹Writ Petition (WP) 26876/2018

Petitioner 

Lalit Shastri
Senior journalist and founder President of Samanya Pichda Alpsankhyak Kalyan Samaj Sanstha (Sapaks Samaj)

Respondents

1. Election Commission Of India Through Its Chief Election Commissioner, Nirvachan Sadan Ashoka Road, Pandit Pant Marg Area, Sansad Marg Area, New Delhi
2. Chief Electoral Officer M.P., Nirvachan Sadan, 17, Arera Hills, Bhopal M.P.
3. SAPAKS Party Through Its President, 144, Vidhya Nagar, Hoshangabad Road, Bhopal M.P.
4. Shri O.P. Rawat Chief Election Commissioner, Election Commission Of India, Nirvachan Sadan Ashoka Road, Pandit Pant Marg Area, Sansad Marg Area, New Delhi.
5. Shri Heeralal Trivedi, President SAPAKS, 144, Vidhya Nagar, Hoshangabad Road, Bhopal M.P.

²Hiralal Trivedi and others in Sapaks Party have been spreading the lie that Lalit Shastri has resigned and is no longer with Sapaks Samaj. Another person, Dr. KL Sahu, who has been illegally appointed as President of Sapaks Samaj even though the post of President was not vacant, recently issued a press statement conveying that Shastri has already resigned and quit the President’s post. Sahu even circulated a copy of Shastri’s resignation letter along with the press statement. This amounts to perpetuating falsehood obviously to maintain control over a society built and nurtured by Shastri. It is true that, emotionally hurt by a set of circumstances, Shastri had handed over his resignation letter to the Sapaks Executive Committee members in April 2017. The managing Committee had responded to this by asking him to withdraw the resignation letter with one voice at a specially convened executive Committee meeting in May 2017. Shastri had honoured their wish and had withdrawn his resignation. This was recorded in the minutes and it was signed by all the members present. In this way, the matter rested there.

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