The Election Commission of India has sought dismissal of plea in the Supreme Court against Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar, terming it "not maintainable" and "an abuse of the process of the court".
In its reply to the petition seeking cancellation of Kumar's membership of the state Legislative Council on the ground that he had allegedly concealed information about a pending criminal case against him, the Election Commission of India (ECI) said that no fundamental rights of citizens had been violated.
"It is submitted at the outset that the present writ petition is not maintainable before this court as a perusal of the contents of the said writ petition and the reliefs prayed for as above, clearly reveal that no fundamental rights of the petitioner or of the citizens of this country has been violated in any manner whatsoever so as to merit the interference of this court under Article 32 of the Constitution," the affidavit filed through advocate Amit Sharma said.
The apex court is likely to hear the matter on March 19.
The ECI said that petitioner advocate M L Sharma had made a bald assertion in the writ petition alleging that the plea has been filed to protect the fundamental rights of the citizens but has deliberately not mentioned as to what fundamental right is sought to be protected.
"However, in the present writ petition, the petitioner has failed to disclose the violation of any fundamental rights so as to warrant the interference of this court under Article 32 of the Constitution. Thus the writ petition ought to be dismissed on the grounds of maintainability alone," it said.
The commission said the plea was not maintainable as Sharma had "willfully" and "deliberately" chosen not to avail of the specific statutory remedy provided under the law.
It said the law provides that any person, who is aware of any information or have evidence with regard to concealing information or giving any false information, can approach police for taking lawful action against the candidate.
"It is further submitted that in the present case, the petitioner deliberately chose not to avail of the aforesaid remedy under section 125A of the Representation of the People Act, 1951 but instead directly approach the election commission of India," the commission said.
It added that the ECI is not an investigative agency or authority and does not either possess the means or is responsible for conducting an enquiry in order to ascertain if the disclosures made by a particular candidates are true and correct.
Terming the allegations levelled by Sharma as completely baseless, unjustified and unverified, the commission said that such unwarranted and unjustified criticism not only undermined its credibility in the eyes of the general public but also shakes the confidence of citizens of this country in the electoral process of this country.
"It is respectfully submitted that present writ petition is nothing but an abuse of the process of this court and ought not to be entertained at all by this court and therefore may be dismissed with exemplary cost," it said.
The apex court had on September 11, 2017, without issuing notice, had sought a response from the ECI on the plea filed by Sharma.
The PIL had alleged that there was a criminal case against the JD(U) leader in which he was accused of killing a local Congress leader Sitaram Singh and injuring four others ahead of the Lok Sabha by-election from Bihar's Barh constituency in 1991. It had also sought a direction to the CBI to register an FIR against Kumar in the case.
The lawyer has sought cancellation of Kumar's membership as per the Election Commission's 2002 order stating it was mandatory for candidates to disclose criminal cases against them in their affidavits annexed to the nomination papers.
He claimed that the Bihar chief minister did not disclose the criminal case pending against him in affidavits since 2004, except for 2012.