The Supreme Court today dismissed a Writ Petition filed by Tamil Nadu farmer and activist P. Ayyakannu, seeking an extension of time for filing nomination from the Varanasi Lok Sabha constituency, where PM Modi is the BJP's candidate.

The Bench of Justice Vikram Nath and Justice Satish Chandra Sharma termed it as a "total publicity litigation."

During the hearing, Advocate S. Mahendran appeared for Ayyakannu. At the outset, Justice Nath asked Mahendran, "Yes Mr. Mahendra, Where are you coming from?"

Mahendran submitted, "My client is from Tamil Nadu, he is 79 years old."

Justice Nath questioned the rationale behind Ayyakannu's sudden interest in contesting from Varanasi, despite his decades-long involvement in Tamil Nadu, Kerala, and Karnataka. Mahendran explained that Ayyakannu had initiated his journey on the 9th, emphasizing the challenges faced by ordinary citizens.

"Tell me one thing, you have been working for 30 years in Tamil Nadu, Kerala, Karnataka, why do you want to contest from Varanasi, that too on the last date you want to come here?", Justice Nath asked.

Mahendran responded that Ayyakannu started on 9th. "This is the way in which the public, the citizen has been ruled out. He was de-boarded from the train...Kindly see the nature, it has come in media," he submitted.

"Alright, dismissed. Next case," said Justice Nath.

Justice Nath further stated that your purpose for filling the Petition (getting publicity) is served. Mahendran responded in a negative.

"Because it came in two papers a few days back, now it will come in papers today itself, that the Petition has been dismissed. Write that Mr. Mahendran has been heard in great detail, so that Mr. Mahendran's name comes in the order and in the print media and the electronic must come," Justice Nath remarked.

Mahendran contended, "One minute, even the Prime Minister filed his nomination only yesterday, up to 14th is the last date."

Justice Nath again said, "Alright, dismissed. Next case."

Mahendran once again submitted, "I may be permitted to file my nomination."

Justice Nath clarified that in case Mahendran is willing to withdraw his client's plea, he may do so. "If you want to withdraw, we will allow you to withdraw. If you want us to dismiss it, we will dismiss it," he said.

The Court while dismissing the Petition said that any further comments in the order would complicate matters. Mahendran also raised concerns regarding the Election Commission's refusal to permit e-filing of nominations, but the Court declined to intervene.

Calling it a Publicity Interest Litigation, Justice Nath said, "This is total publicity. If we start commenting in the order then it will start becoming difficult for you."

Mahendran told the Court that the ECI has not permitted e-filing of nominations. He requested that he may be permitted to e-file nomination.

"Do whatever you like, if it is permissible..we are not doing it. Sorry. Next case," Justice Nath said.

Mahendran further submitted, "Ayyakannu is from his native and is 79 years old. He is fighting for a social cause and is a social activist."

Justice Nath said, "Therefore, he (Ayyakannu) wants to come to Varanasi to contest that election. You never worked in your constituency from where you want to contest the election...not a single day. Why should the people of Varanasi vote for you? You give me one reason...You are fighting for a social cause, very good, why couldn't you find a seat to contest in Tamil Nadu? Alright, next case. Otherwise whatever we say will be reported immediately."

Accordingly, the Court dismissed the Writ Petition.

Ayyakannu, an activist and lawyer is the chief of the Desiya Thenidhiya Nathigal Inaippu Vivasayigal Sangam. He gained prominence for leading the 2017 Tamil Nadu farmers' protest in New Delhi, demanding the waiver of agricultural loans in cooperative banks.

The Sangam announced its intention to field 111 farmer candidates as Independents against Prime Minister Modi in Varanasi, protesting what they perceive as his unfulfilled election promises. Recently, Ayyakannu and a group of farmers staged a protest at the Thanjavur railway junction, alleging obstruction in travel to Varanasi to file their nomination papers. According to news reports, the protest caused a delay of over an hour and a half for the Varanasi-bound Kashi Tamil Express (16367).

Cause Title: P. Ayyakannu v. The Chief Election Commission and Ors. [W.P. (C) No. 333/2024]