Kerala Congress (M) symbol row: SC dismisses P J Joseph plea challenging EC order

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New Delhi, Mar 15 (PTI) The Supreme Court on Monday rejected an appeal filed by senior Kerala Congress leader P J Joseph challenging the Election Commission's order recognising the Jose K Mani faction as the official Kerala Congress (M) and allotting the party's symbol to it.

A bench comprising Chief Justice S A Bobde and Justices A S Bopanna and V Ramasubramanian dismissed Joseph's appeal challenging the Kerala High Court order upholding the Election Commission's order granting it the official election symbol of 'Two Leaves'.

Senior advocate Shyam Divan appeared for Joseph and submitted that no material was available with the poll panel to hold that Mani's faction was the real Kerala Congress (M) party.

The bench, however, said that it was not inclined to interfere with the decision of the High Court.

Joseph had moved the top court against judgement of division bench of the Kerala High Court which upheld a single judge's verdict upholding the Election Commission's order.

A single bench of the High Court had dismissed Joseph's plea saying the conclusions of the Commission cannot be said to be perverse and it cannot be said that no reasonable person can arrive at such conclusions.

In a majority verdict, Chief Election Commissioner Sunil Arora and Election Commissioner Sushil Chandra had held that the Jose K Mani faction was the Kerala Congress (Mani) and entitled to use its name and its reserved symbol Two Leaves for the purposes of the Election Symbols (Reservation and Allotment) Order, 1968.

The dispute in the party arose between vice-chairman Jose and working chairman Joseph following the death of party chairman K M Mani in 2019.

Challenging the EC decision, Joseph had submitted that Jose K Mani raised a claim that he was elected chairman of the party at a state committee meeting held on June 16 last year but a civil court held that the election was not, prima facie, valid.

'However, Jose K Mani approached the election commission claiming majority in the 450-member state committee.

'Finding that there were differences in the lists of state committee members submitted before it, the Election Commission created a list of 305 members who were common in both the lists and applied a majority test, which resulted in the order,' Joseph had said in the plea in the high court. PTI SJK PKS DV DV