M A I N   N E W S

Notice to Sukh Ram, EC on HVC-Cong merger
S.S. Negi
Legal Correspondent

New Delhi, May 17
The merger of Himachal Vikas Congress (HVC), an outfit formed by former Union Communication Minister Sukh Ram, with the Congress prior to the last Lok Sabha elections has been challenged in the Delhi High Court by one of his ex-party colleagues on the ground that the merger was “improper” and in violation of election laws.

Taking cognizance of a writ petition by Desh Raj Sharma, who claims himself to be the President of the HVC now, Ms Justice Gita Mital issued notices to the Election Commission (EC) and Sukh Ram, directing them to submit replies within four weeks as to why the petition should not be admitted.

Advocate Jasbir Malik, who had filed the petition on behalf of Desh Raj, told The Tribune today that the Court had fixed the hearing for argument on July 4.

He said the EC counsel had already accepted the notice. Desh Raj moved the High Court after his petition was rejected by the EC on being heard by the Deputy Election Commissioner.

Advocate Naresh Verma, arguing the matter, challenged the merger on the ground that Sukh Ram had taken the decision “arbitrarily” without any approval either from the party’s governing council or from its general workers.

He also challenged the decision of poll panel approving the merger, contending that Deputy Election Commission had no power to decide such an important issue as the matter has to be heard by the full three-member Commission.

Sharma, in his petition, claimed that former Chief Election Commissioner T.S. Krishna Murthy had on April 23, 2004 stated that the Commission had not received any communication regarding the merger from HVC and the panel consequently had allowed the party to contest last Lok Sabha elections and 2005 bye-election to Himachal Vidhan Sabha on its symbol, Telephone.

Sukh Ram, who had formed the HVC after he was expelled from the Congress in 1996 in the wake of registration of various corruption cases against him, had emerged a strong force in the subsequent Assembly elections in the state and helped the BJP to form government under Prem Kumar Dhumal.

But a split in the party and its worst defeat in the last Assembly polls forced him to mend his ways with his arch rival and Congress leader Virbhadra Singh under whose leadership the party had swept back to power.

Desh Raj Sharma claimed that the HVC apparatus was intact in all the districts of Himachal and Sukh Ram had only joined the Congress with few of his supporters, which could not be described as merger under the Representation of People Act.

The HVC, which had five MLAs in the previous Assembly and one MP in the previous Lok Sabha and also a member in the Rajya Sabha, had been working in the “interest” of the people of Himachal and could not be “hoodwinked” by an individual, Sharma’s counsel contended.

HOME PAGE | Punjab | Haryana | Jammu & Kashmir | Himachal Pradesh | Regional Briefs | Nation | Opinions |
| Business | Sports | World | Mailbag | Chandigarh | Ludhiana | Delhi |
| Calendar | Weather | Archive | Subscribe | Suggestion | E-mail |