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NCP ‘clock’ symbol | Supreme Court questions Ajit Pawar on publication of advertisement with disclaimer about ongoing dispute

 NCP (Ajit faction) leaders Ajit Pawar, Sunil Tatkare, Praful Patel and others during a review meeting ahead of the Lok Sabha elections, in Mumbai. File.

NCP (Ajit faction) leaders Ajit Pawar, Sunil Tatkare, Praful Patel and others during a review meeting ahead of the Lok Sabha elections, in Mumbai. File.
| Photo Credit: PTI

The Supreme Court on April 3 asked the Ajit Pawar group, now declared the “real Nationalist Congress Party”, if they have complied with its March 19 order to publish advertisements in the media with a disclaimer that a legal dispute with his uncle Sharad Pawar’s faction over the allocation of the party symbol ‘clock’ is still underway in the Supreme Court.

In an oral mentioning before a Bench headed by Justice Surya Kant, senior advocate A.M. Singhvi, appearing for the elder Pawar, who founded the Nationalist Congress Party (NCP), informed that the group led by Maharashtra Deputy Chief Minister Ajit Pawar was yet to comply with the court order.

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“We are in the middle of the election season,” Mr. Singhvi pointed out. He said an application filed by the Ajit Pawar faction to relax the March 19 order was actually an attempt to review the court direction.

“It is nothing but a blatant review. It is a reasoned order,” Mr. Singhvi submitted.

Senior advocate Mukul Rohatgi urged the court to modify the “last line” of the order.

In the March 19 order, the Supreme Court directed the NCP to “issue a public notice in the newspapers with Marathi, Hindi and English editions, notifying that the allocation of the “clock” symbol is sub-judice before the Supreme Court and the respondents (Ajit Pawar group) have been permitted to use the same subject to the final outcome of these proceedings. Such a declaration shall be incorporated in every pamphlet, advertisement, audio, or video clips to be issued on behalf of the respondents”.

Justice Kant however voiced the firm view of the Bench that there was no ambiguity in the order which required clarification. The language of the order was both simple, clear and direct, Justice Kant noted.

“There is only one meaning and no question of double interpretation,” Justice Kant said.

The court said nobody had a right to deliberately misconstrue a court order. The Bench listed the case on Thursday.

The Supreme Court had passed the March 19 order on a plea by the Sharad Pawar group to restrain his nephew, who broke away with a clutch of MLAs to join the BJP-Eknath Shinde government, from using the ‘clock’ symbol, the original symbol of the undivided NCP.

The court had not stopped Mr. Ajit Pawar from continuing to use the symbol, but had told him to be transparent about the ongoing legal dispute over it with his uncle.

Mr. Sharad Pawar had alleged that his face and the clock symbol were both misused by his nephew’s faction to misguide voters. He had argued that this was against the very principle of free and fair elections, tilting the playing field in favour of Mr. Ajit Pawar a few days ahead of the General Elections.

The March 19 order of the Supreme Court had recognised Mr. Sharad Pawar’s plea to contest the polls under the ‘trumpet’ party symbol and the title ‘Nationalist Congress Party-Sharadchandra Pawar’. The court had directed the Election Commission to not allot the ‘trumpet’ symbol to any other party or independent candidate.

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