The Supreme Court on Monday stayed the Election Commission order which revoked "star campaigner" status of former Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Kamal Nath for model code violation during the campaign for bypolls in 28 assembly constituencies in the state.
"We are staying the Election Commission's order and the EC has no power," said Chief Justice of India SA Bobde. The bench also comprised of Justices A S Bopanna and V Ramasubramanian.
"Who has given power to you (the Election Commission) to remove a candidate from the star campaigner list? It is you or a leader of the party?" Chief Justice Bobde said. "Where do you get the power to determine who will be the leader of a political party? It is for you or the party to decide who is the star campaigner?" he added.
The apex court was hearing Nath's plea challenging the October 30 order of the EC revoking his star campaigner status. Besides seeking quashing of the EC order, the senior Congress leader also sought framing of appropriate guidelines for speeches during campaigning by star campaigners or campaigners, "keeping in mind the right to freedom of speech and expression and concept of democratic elections".
Last week, the EC had asked Nath not to use words like "item" in campaigning. He had used the jibe to hit out at state minister and BJP candidate Imarti Devi at a rally.
Meanwhile, the Election Commission said that it will file its reply at the earliest on the petition of Congress leader Kamal Nath challenging its order in the Supreme Court revoking his "star campaigner" status.
"Hon'ble Supreme Court is supreme. EC has been given an opportunity to file a reply in the matter, which shall be filed at the earliest," the Commission said.
(With inputs from PTI)