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The Supreme Court has been moved against the apparent reluctance of the Election Commission of India (ECI) to act against Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) President Amit Shah despite “frequent and habitual violations” of the Mode of Code of Conduct (MCC). The Supreme Court will now hear the matter tomorrow.
The petition filed by President of the All India Mahila Congress and Member of Parliament Sushmita Dev, through Advocate Sunil Fernandes, states,
“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 Respondent/ECI.
Furthermore, the Prime Minister in blatant violation of the MCC held a rally on the day of polling in Gujarat on April 23rd, 2019 i.e. date of voting in the third phase of the election.”
The matter was mentioned today by Senior Advocate Abhishek Manu Singhvi before the Bench headed by Chief Justice of India Ranjan Gogoi. When CJI Gogoi asked who made the MCC violations, Singhvi replied,
“PM Narendra Modi and BJP President Amit Shah.”
“Why don’t you say that clearly? We will hear you last”, replied CJI Gogoi.
The Supreme Court then decided to hear the matter tomorrow.
The petitioner has contended that multiple complaints have been lodged against the same, highlighting violations of the Representation of People’s Act, 1951 and the Conduct of Election Rules, 1961. However, the ECI has not responded to any of these representations, she argues. In this backdrop, it is submitted,
“The lack of decision despite cogent evidences, representations and exhortations to the Respondent/ECI demonstrates abdication and indecision and a complete absence of justice, in ensuring a level playing field in ensuing General Elections for the Lok Sabha. The inactions, omissions and commissions by the Respondent/ECI are in complete and direct violation of Articles 14 and 21 of the Constitution and which are impeding free, fair and unbiased General Elections, 2019.“
The petitioner goes on to argue that the ECI has been selective in its censures when it comes to responding to complaints against Narendra Modi and Amit Shah. As stated in her plea,
“Such brazen violations are neither minor nor procedural, in any manner. It is 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. However, the Respondents are guarded and oblivious to the comprehensive Representations/ Complaints (duly supported by the cogent evidence) that have been filed by the Petitioner’s party against the Prime Minister and Mr. Amit Shah.“
The slow response of the ECI in this regard is also contended to be a tacit endorsement of Modi’s and Shah’s conduct, in effect giving them a clean chit despite MCC violations.
“That the Petitioner herein submits that the delay of more than 3 weeks in decision making or the absence of a decision, are in fact decisions in themselves. It would not be overstating that inaction by the Respondents is a tacit endorsement of the statements and clean chit to the individuals whose statements and actions are ex facie in violation of the provisions of the RP Act and the Election Rules 1961 including the MCC…
...‘non-decision’ is, in fact, a decision exonerating those complained against. Since the complaint and cause of action vis-à-vis the Election Commission becomes redundant once the Elections are concluded.”
It is contended that there cannot be two sets of rules – one for the Prime Minister and for the BJP President and another for the rest of the candidates contesting an election. Further, it is argued that such “deliberate and willful violations, when unaddressed by the Respondent, send a message of endorsement, not just to the offenders, but to all party functionaries down the line.”
Therefore, it has been prayed that the Court direct the ECI to expeditiously decide on the complaints pending against Modi and Shah before it. The petition calls on the Court to issue a direction to the ECI,
“… to expeditiously decide, without any delay or demur, and in any case not later than 24 hours from the order passed by this Hon’ble Court, the multiple complaints filed and pending before it, against the Prime Minister Narendra Modi and the BJP President Mr. Shah.”