Nawab Malik and Anil Deshmukh’s requests for permission to vote in the upcoming Maharashtra Member of Legislative Council (MLC) elections were denied by the Bombay High Court Bench of Justice NJ Jamadar on Friday in the matter of Nawab Malik and Anil Deshmukh v. Enforcement Directorate.
The two had moved to the High Court on the grounds that, as Legislative Assembly Ministers, they should be permitted to participate in the elections.
The two ministers would effectively not be released from judicial custody in order for them to participate in the elections scheduled for June 20 as a result of the court’s decision today.
The Supreme Court will hear an appeal against the order from Malik and Deshmukh. On Monday, June 20, the special leave petition challenging the High Court’s decision will be heard.
Malik’s senior counsel Amit Desai had pleaded that even though the Representation of People Act limits the use of the casting vote, it does not eliminate the Court’s discretion to approve release.
He highlighted that the Court should support democracy unless there are more pressing reasons, such as a law and order situation.
Through Additional Solicitor General Anil Singh, the Enforcement Directorate (ED) contested the arguments, citing Section 62(5) of the Act, which, according to the agency, clearly prohibits people who are incarcerated from casting votes.
Senior Attorney Vikram Chaudhri argued that it was risky for ED to assert that the judge cannot exercise discretion.
According to his argument, the legislators were forced to file a court petition because of an embargo (under Section 62(5) of the Representation of People Act).