'Can't Micromanage Poll Body': Court Dismisses Petition Seeking Action Against PM

A petition had sought action against Prime Minister Narendra Modi over his speech in Banswara, Rajasthan.

'Can't Micromanage Poll Body': Court Dismisses Petition Seeking Action Against PM

Representational Image

New Delhi:

The Delhi High Court on Monday dismissed a plea seeking a direction for immediate action against Prime Minister Narendra Modi and other candidates contesting in the ongoing Lok Sabha elections over alleged hate speech in violation of the Model Code of Conduct (MCC).

The plea referred to a speech of PM Modi delivered on April 21 in Banswara, Rajasthan.

Justice Sachin Datta, while dismissing the plea, observed, "I cannot micromanage the Election Commission of India as to how they deal with the situation. The ECI is a constitutional body and it cannot be presumed that it will not do anything. This court finds no merit in the petition. The petition is accordingly dismissed."

Appearing for the petitioner, Advocate Nizam Pasha alleged that the ECI has taken action against several other leaders but didn't take any cognizance of any complaint filed against PM Modi.

Meanwhile, appearing for ECI, Advocate Suruchi Suri submitted that the BJP has recently, through a communication, sought an extension of time to reply to its notice and the reply is expected by May 15.

Recently, on April 25, the Election Commission took note of Prime Minister Narendra Modi's remarks and served a notice to BJP national president JP Nadda over the former's "infiltrator" comments during a campaign speech at Banswara in Rajasthan.

The plea has been moved by three persons, namely Shaheen Abdullah, Amitabh Pande and Deb Mukharji. They have sought a direction from the Delhi HC to the ECI to take immediate action, including filing of FIR against the political leaders delivering hate speeches.

It was submitted that despite a large number of complaints by several citizens, including the petitioner Shaheen Abdullah, having been made, Respondent ECI has failed to take any effective action.

"This inaction on the part of the respondent is manifestly arbitrary, malafide, impermissible and constitutes a violation of its constitutional duty. It amounts to rendering the MCC futile, the very purpose of which is to ensure that communal harmony and the spirit of brotherhood are not given a go-by by candidates to secure victory in the elections," the plea stated.

It submitted that the omissions and commissions by the respondent are not only in complete and direct violation of Articles 14, 21 and 324 of the Constitution of India but are also impeding free, fair and unbiased general elections.

It said that a bare perusal of the aforementioned speeches, that are readily available and are being widely circulated on social media platforms, sufficiently establishes their communally inciteful nature. The respondent, despite being solely responsible for the conduct of free and fair elections has miserably failed in its constitutional duty of preventing hate speeches, thereby leaving the sanctity and integrity of the entire election process in a lurch.

"It is pertinent to note that the delivery of communally divisive speeches is a punishable offence under Sections 153-A, 153-B, 295 and 505 of the Indian Penal Code, even in the normal course. Such speeches, when made during elections, have additionally been declared to be an offence under Section 125 of the Representation of People Act, 1951," the plea stated.

The plea has claimed that no such action has been forthcoming against PM Modi and other people making hate speeches during the ongoing election campaign.

It is also said that taking of immediate and effective action is not a discretionary exercise but a constitutional mandate that Respondent (ECI) is bound by.

(Except for the headline, this story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is published from a syndicated feed.)