HC dismisses plea seeking direction to ECI to take action against PM Modi

New Delhi, May 13 (PTI) The Delhi High Court on Monday dismissed a plea seeking direction to the Election Commission of India to take action against Prime Minister Narendra Modi for allegedly delivering communally divisive speeches during the Lok Sabha poll campaign in violation of the Model Code of Conduct.

Justice Sachin Datta said the plea was “wholly misconceived” and devoid of merit, and the ECI can take an independent view of the complaint of the petitioner in accordance with law.

“As such, at this stage, the present petition is wholly misconceived. In the circumstances, this Court finds no merit whatsoever in the present petition and the same is accordingly dismissed,” the court said in the order.

The court also referred to its earlier order passed in a plea pertaining to a speech given by the prime minister where he allegedly sought votes in the name of religion and deities, and said making any presupposition that the poll panel will not take any action against errant parties and politicians is unjustified.

The counsel for the ECI submitted it has issued a detailed advisory to all political parties on March 1, before the elections were announced, about the norms to be followed during the campaign. It said a notice had been issued by the commission and appropriate action shall be taken, if necessary, on receiving the reply to the notice.

The petitioner’s counsel said the ECI cannot have different standards for taking action against different politicians.

The plea by Shaheen Abdulla alleged that no action has been taken against Prime Minister Modi and others from the BJP for their alleged hate speeches, despite complaints made to the ECI.

During the hearing, the judge observed, “I cannot micro manage ECI on how they shall deal with it. They are in the middle of dealing with it. We cannot presume they would not do anything.”

The plea submitted that while the ECI has taken action against campaigners making speeches in violation of the Model Code of Conduct (MCC) for the elections “including imposition of bans from further campaigning and registration of FIRs”, no such action has been forthcoming against PM Modi and other persons “making hate speeches during the ongoing election campaign”.

It said that on May 1, the ECI had imposed a “ban” on the president of Bharat Rashtra Samiti, K. Chandrashekar Rao, from campaigning for violation of the MCC in his election speeches and individual notices for such transgressions have also been issued to BJP MP from West Bengal Dilip Ghosh, Aam Aadmi Party leader Atishi, and Congress leader Randeep Singh Surjewala.

“However, no such action has been taken against Shri Modi and other persons from the Bhartiya Janata Party for their hate speeches, despite complaints by the petitioner and various other persons, demonstrating the bias in the functioning of the respondent in favour of the ruling party,” it claimed.

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