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Lok Sabha Polls 2024 | Calcutta High Court restrains BJP from publishing advertisements violative of code

The court, in an injunction order, also restrained the BJP from publishing advertisements mentioned by the TMC in its petition claiming unverified allegations against it and its workers.
Last Updated : 20 May 2024, 15:39 IST
Last Updated : 20 May 2024, 15:39 IST

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Kolkata: The Calcutta High Court on Monday issued an injunction restraining the BJP from publishing advertisements that violate the election Model Code of Conduct (MCC) until June 4, the day the Lok Sabha election process ends.

The court, in an injunction order, also restrained the BJP from publishing advertisements mentioned by the TMC in its petition claiming unverified allegations against it and its workers.

A single bench of Justice Sabyasachi Bhattacharyya restrained the BJP from publishing advertisements in any form of the media which is violative of the MCC till June 4 or until further notice.

The court observed that a perusal of the newspaper advertisements annexed by petitioner TMC evince that those are in violation of the MCC.

It also criticised the Election Commission (EC) for not addressing the complaints promptly, especially with most phases of the Lok Sabha elections already completed.

The counsel appearing for the TMC contended before the court that it is being prejudiced by some newspaper advertisements by the BJP, claiming violation of the MCC and media compendium issued by the EC.

Annexing some advertisements by the BJP, the petitioner claimed that despite complaining, the EC did not take any step and that only after filing of this petition, the commission had issued notice on May 18.

The EC's counsel submitted before the court that the commission has powers to look into the matter to ensure compliance of its advisories and MCC and has accordingly fixed for reply to the show cause notice on the basis of the complaint on May 21.

The poll panel's counsel also referred to provisions in the Constitution debarring the intervention of courts in matters pertaining to conduct of elections.

Stating that the court is not satisfied that any of the resolutions referred to by the commission "are resolutions in the real sense of the term", Justice Bhattacharyya said, "the said matter is an exercise by the ECI of passing of buck regarding the complaint made by the petitioner."

He said it is well-settled by the Supreme Court and various high courts on several occasions that the court cannot interdict in an election process so as to throw a spanner in the wheels of the election.

He said that the purpose of the court can at best be to facilitate the process of election and not to halt the same or to prevent the smooth process.

The court said in the present petition, however, the petitioner seeks to ensure free and fair elections by way of preventing publication of advertisements in violation of the MCC.

The court said the present challenge also involves "the rights of the petitioner and its functionaries under Article 21 and 19 of the Constitution in order to practise, preach and profess and propagate their political philosophies as well as to have a right to a free and fair election process."

Justice Bhattacharyya said the petitioner is entitled under Article 14 of the Constitution to seek that the court ensures "fair play" in the electoral process and to protect the rights of any and every political party in that regard.

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Published 20 May 2024, 15:39 IST

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