Mumbai: The Aurangabad divisional bench of the Bombay High Court disqualified Minister of state for Dairy Development Arjun Khotkar as a MLA. Delivering the judgement, Justice P V Nalawade, on a election petition filed by defeated Congress candidate Kailas Gorantyal, has given Khotkar four weeks to file an appeal against the judgement. The court has also granted an interim stay on its judgement. An official from Election Commission of India (ECI) said Khotkar can vote in December 7 poll for by-election.
The court said though it was nullifying Khotkar’s election, it wouldn’t pass any order declaring Gorantyal as MLA. Gorantyal in his plea had contended that Khotkar had filed his nomination papers from the Jalna assembly constituency well after the 3 pm deadline on the last day of filing of nomination papers in 2014. Khotkar had defeated Gorantyal by a slender margin of just 296 votes.
Official from ECI said in such cases a victorious candidate is granted time to challenge the verdict of the High Court in the Supreme Court. The ECI official further clarified in the interim period of appeal and hearing the membership of the candidate continues to enjoys the rights of member of state legislator (MLA) and can take part in the proceedings of the house and vote in its proceedings.
Reacting to the verdict, Khotkar said, “The HC has disqualified my membership of the legislative assembly on technical grounds. I will file a petition in the Supreme Court and I am confident that I shall get justice.” He stated that on September 27, 2014 by 3 pm, it is mandated that nomination papers were to be filed.
In the 2014 assembly elections from the Jalna assembly constituency, Khotkar was locked in a quadrangular contest with Gorantyal (Congress), Arvind Chavan (BJP) and Abdul Rashid (BSP). Khotkar polled 45,078 votes, while Gorantyal polled 44,782 votes, Chavan 37,591 votes and Rashid 36,350 votes. Khotkar is a four-term MLA representing Jalna in the lower house of the state legislature.