ALLAHABAD: The Allahabad High Court today dismissed a petition challenging the election of Prime Minister Narendra Modi from Varanasi Lok Sabha constituency.
Single judge bench of Justice Vikram Nath allowed the preliminary objection raised by Modi's counsel and rejected the petition of Ajay Rai, Congress MLA who had lost in the elections in 2014.
"No material has been placed on record to make the petition triable," the judge said.
The court was of the view that the petition was "half- hearted" and termed as "vague and bald statements, based on media reports" the allegations by Rai about the expenditure on Modi's campaign being far in excess of permissible limits.
Rai, who had finished third and forfeited his deposit in the nearly one-sided electoral battle, had alleged in his petition that "more than Rs 50 crore" had been spent on Modi's election campaign.
He had also claimed that a number of posh hotels in the ancient temple town had been booked for the purpose "for the period between April 24, 2014 and May 12, 2014 (the date of voting in Varanasi)".
Rai had also claimed that "more than 400 vans" had been plied for the purpose of canvassing and popularizing slogans like "Har Har Modi Ghar Ghar Modi" and "Abki Baar Modi Sarkar".
However, the court concurred with the submission of Modi's counsel and Additional Solicitor General of India Satyapal Jain that "the petitioner has failed to place any material on record to establish that these expenses were made directly by the candidate or by his supporters upon his directions".
"While making an allegation that more than Rs 50 crore were spent, the petitioner has failed to specify who made these payments and to whom and what was the mode of payment.
There is a lack of specific pleadings and the allegations are merely vague and bald statements based on media reports," the court remarked. Dictation of the order by the judge began on Monday and concluded today.
Earlier, the court had also turned down the petitioner's other contention that by writing "not known" in columns meant for assets and liabilities of his wife Jashodaben, Modi had failed to provide details in his nomination papers as required under law.
Pointing out that laws relating to elections were "highly technical", the court stated that "it was mandatory on part of the petitioner to establish that Mr Modi was in full knowledge of the assets and liabilities of Jashodaben and yet he did not disclose the same in his papers".
"However, no such thing was stated by the petitioner.This does not make the petition a case fit for intervention," the court added.
Rai, who had filed the petition in June, 2016, less than a month after results for the Lok Sabha polls were declared, represents Pindra in the Uttar Pradesh Assembly.
Starting off as a BJP MLA in the 1990s, he parted ways with the party during the 2009 Lok Sabha polls wherein he contested unsuccessfully as a Samajwadi Party candidate from Varanasi. The seat was bagged by BJP heavyweight Murli Manohar Joshi.
He then joined the Congress ahead of the 2012 assembly polls and impressed the party by winning the newly carved out seat.
He was fielded from Varanasi in the 2014 general elections with the party hoping that as a "local" he would be able to make a mark in the high-voltage electoral battle which had become centred around Modi and Aam Aadmi Party's Kejriwal.
However, Rai finished a distant third and lost his deposit even as Modi went on to win the seat, beating Kejriwal - his nearest rival - by a margin of more than 3.71 lakh votes.