Kerala Cong-Mani row: SC dismisses Joseph plea against EC order

The Supreme Court on Monday declined to entertain a plea filed by senior Kerala Congress leader P.J. Joseph against the Election Commission order recognising the Jose K. Mani faction as the official Kerala Congress-Mani and allotting it the party symbol.

Joseph moved the top court challenging the Kerala High Court order, which upheld the Election Commission order.

Senior advocate Shyam Divan, representing Joseph, contended before a bench headed by Chief Justice S.A. Bobde that the poll panel had no material to hold Mani’s faction was the real Kerala Congress-Mani.

However, the bench, which also comprises Justices A.S. Bopanna and V. Ramasubramanian, said the court is not keen to interfere with the Kerala High Court order, upholding the poll panel decision to grant the official election symbol of “Two Leaves” to the Mani group.

“We don’t agree with you… we are not interfering,” the bench told Joseph’s counsel.

A division bench of the Kerala High Court upheld a single judge bench verdict upholding the Election Commission’s order. In a majority verdict, Chief Election Commissioner Sunil Arora and Election Commissioner Sushil Chandra held that Mani’s faction was the Kerala Congress-Mani, and thus, entitled to use its name and its reserved symbol ‘two leaves’ for the purposes of the Election Symbols (Reservation and Allotment) Order, 1968.

Joseph had contended before the High Court that poll panel’s conclusion can said to be perverse. The dispute between party Vice Chairman Jose Mani and Working Chairman Joseph following the death of party chairman K.M. Mani in 2019.