The Supreme Court on Monday agreed to hear tomorrow a Congress MP’s plea seeking direction to the Election Commission to decide without any “demur” the complaints against Prime Minister Narendra Modi and BJP President Amit Shah on their alleged hate speeches and using armed forces for “political propaganda”.
A bench headed by Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi took note of the submissions of senior advocate AM Singhvi that the plea of Sushmita Dev, Congress Lok Sabha MP from Silchar in Assam and president of ‘All India Mahila Congress’, be accorded an urgent hearing as EC has not taken any decision on complaints of model code of conduct (MCC) violations against Modi and Shah.
Dev alleged that “inaction” by EC on complaints against top BJP leaders was “a sign of invidious discrimination” and was “arbitrary, capricious and impermissible” as it was destructive of the integrity of electoral process.
Singhvi, along with lawyer Sunil Fernandes, alleged that BJP leaders have been violating MCC during the last four weeks and the EC has not taken any decisions on as many as 40 complaints of Congress party.
To this, the bench said it will hear the plea on Tuesday.
At the outset, the bench took note of the submission of Singhvi and asked him as to why he was reluctant in naming the BJP leaders.
“Why don’t you (Singhvi) mention clearly the names,” said the bench, also comprising Justices Deepak Gupta and Sanjiv Khanna.
“Since March 10, that is the date on which General Elections, were notified, the Prime Minister, Narendra Modi and BJP president Amit Shah, specifically in sensitive areas and states, have ex-facie violated the provisions of the Representation of People’s Act and the Conduct of Election Rules and the process, thereof. It is in public domain that they have indulged in hate speeches, repeatedly used the armed forces for political propaganda, despite a clear prohibition on the same by the EC,” Dev alleged.
The Silchar MP said she has been constrained to move to the apex court to seek direction to the EC “to expeditiously take action on multiple representations/ complaints pending before the ECI” against Modi and Shah.
Alleging inaction on the part of EC, the plea said it has not been taking actions “despite cogent evidence” and exhortations to the EC demonstrated “abdication and indecision and a complete absence of justice, in ensuring a level playing field in ensuing general elections.”
“The inactions, omissions and commissions by the EC are in complete and direct violation of Articles 14 and 21 of the Constitution and which are impeding free, fair and unbiased General Elections,” the plea said.
The plea listed out several alleged instances of MCC violations by Modi and Shah in their meetings and referred to as the first violation the speech of Modi at a rally at Wardha, Maharashtra, on April 1 where he had allegedly raised the issue of ‘bhagva aatankwad’ (saffron terror).
Modi had also allegedly raised the issue of the Congress President fighting polls from Wayanad in Kerala.
“Prime Minister Narendra Modi addressed a rally where he gave a hate-speech and sought votes in the name of Armed Forces in Wardha, Maharashtra,” the plea alleged.
It also referred to the EC’s circulars prohibiting parties and candidates from using pictures of armed forces for their political propaganda and using religions.
“The purpose of all these rules and regulations is to ensure a level playing field for all candidates regardless of position, influence or ideology and also to ensure that the sanctity and integrity of the electoral process is not undermined by unscrupulous individuals,” it said.
The plea said that under the Constitution, the poll panel is the “watchdog of free and fair elections and is duty-bound to circumvent the pressure and ascertain that ensuing elections are free from any impediments in order to uphold the democratic sanctity and fundamental rights of the voter”.
It alleged that the Prime Minister, in blatant violation of the MCC, held a rally on the day of polling in Gujarat on April 23.
“Such brazen violations are neither minor nor procedural, in any manner. It is a matter of record that other candidates who have been in breach of the electoral laws including the MCC have had strictures and directions passed against them including ban from campaigning for 72 hours,” it said.
Dev alleged that the EC has been “guarded and oblivious” to comprehensive complaints against the Prime Minister and Shah.
The Plea said: “The inaction on the part of the EC is a sign of invidious discrimination and is arbitrary, capricious and impermissible, which apart from constituting clear and material infraction of the Petitioner’s Fundamental Rights under Article 14 and 21 …is also ex-facie destructive of the integrity of the Electoral Process, whereby certain selected very powerful individuals have been permitted to gain an unfair electoral advantage by their material infractions of the RP Act, Election Rules and the MCC.”
The plea is solely directed against the inaction of EC for more than three weeks, it alleged, adding that the EC has become “a tool in the hands of the dispensation to facilitate violation of the provisions of the Constitution, the provisions of the Act and the Rules”.