Congress MP Sushmita Dev on Tuesday claimed before the Supreme Court that the Election Commission has failed to appreciate that the alleged “hate speeches” by Prime Minister Narendra Modi and BJP chief Amit Shah are “corrupt practices” and promote the feeling of enmity on religious grounds.
In an affidavit, Dev, who placed before the apex court various orders of the poll panel on complaints of model code violation against Modi and Shah, said that the Election Commission has passed orders in a “cryptic manner without mentioning any reason whatsoever, in stark violation of the law laid down by this court” while disposing of some complaints.
The Congress party has on May 6 lodged a fresh complaint before the poll panel against Modi for his remarks which “maligned and tarnished the image” of former Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi, Dev said in the affidavit filed in the court
The apex court had on Monday asked the Congress MP to bring on record EC’s orders giving clean chit to Modi and Shah, after she accused the poll panel of inaction on complaints against the two BJP leaders for allegedly violating the model code of conduct (MCC) with “hate speeches” and using armed forces for “political propaganda”
Alleging discrimination and arbitrariness on part of the EC, Dev said that the poll panel has initiated action for violation of model code of conduct against Union minister Maneka Gandhi, Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath, BSP Supremo Mayawati and BJP leader Sadhvi Pragya Singh Thakur for statements which were similar in “tone, tenor, meaning, purport and intention” to Modi and Shah’s statements.
“The Respondent-ECI failed to appreciate that the hate speeches delivered by the Prime Minister, Narendra Modi and Amit Shah are ‘corrupt practices’ under Section 123A of the Representation of People Act, 1951 which ex-facie promote feelings of enmity and hatred between different classes of the citizens of India on grounds of religion,” Dev’s affidavit said.
She said that speeches given by Modi and Shah are also punishable under section 153A of the Indian Penal Code as they “blatantly promote disharmony and feelings of enmity on the grounds of religion and such acts are also likely to prejudice the maintenance of public harmony and tranquility between religious communities”.
Referring to some of the orders passed by EC on complaints against Modi and Shah, Dev, a Lok Sabha MP from Silchar in Assam and also the President of All India Mahila Congress, said, “The Respondent-ECI has passed the above orders in a cryptic manner without any reasons whatsoever, in stark violation of the law laid down by this court”.
Dev said that the dissent reported and given by one of the Election Commissioners is not provided along with the order.
“This demonstrates a complete lack of transparency and arbitrariness of the Respondent’s (ECI) decision-making process on complaints against Shri Modi and Shri Amit Shah,” the affidavit said.
“Prime Minister Narendra Modi, in an act unbecoming of the high office he holds, made unprecedented obscene/ derogatory remarks, in a speech…by referring to present Congress President Rahul Gandhi’s late father and former Prime Minister of India Rajiv Gandhi, in Pratapgarh, Uttar Pradesh,” Dev said in her affidavit.
It said, “That in light of the aforesaid unfortunate and unbecoming statements made by the Prime Minister to malign and tarnish the former Prime Minister’s image, the Congress Party was constrained to submit another complaint dated 06.05.2019 against Prime Minister, Narendra Modi for aforestated obscene/derogatory remarks”.
The top court had listed Dev’s plea for hearing on May 8.
Senior advocate A M Singhvi, appearing for Dev, had contended that the poll panel has passed “unreasoned” orders while dismissing complaints of MCC violations against Modi and Shah and moreover, there have been reports of dissent by one of the Election Commissioners in passing some of the decisions.
The apex court should consider framing guidelines to deal with violations of MCC in a time-bound manner as the delay denies the level-playing field to all political parties which is part of the basic structure of the Constitution, Singhvi said.
Dev, in her plea, has alleged inaction by EC in deciding complaints against Modi and Shah and has said that it was “a sign of invidious discrimination” and also “arbitrary, capricious and impermissible” as it was destructive of the integrity of electoral process.
Earlier, the apex court had directed the poll panel to decide by May 6, the nine complaints of the Congress party alleging violations of MCC by the Prime Minister and Shah.
The poll panel had said that by May 8, it was likely to consider all the representations of the Congress party and its leader.