Supreme Court to hear BJP's plea against Calcutta HC order on ads during Lok Sabha polls on May 27

The single-judge bench, on May 20, restrained the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) from publishing advertisements that violated the MCC until June 4, the day the Lok Sabha poll results are scheduled to be declared.
Last Updated : 24 May 2024, 17:07 IST
Last Updated : 24 May 2024, 17:07 IST

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New Delhi: The BJP moved the Supreme Court on Friday, challenging a Calcutta High Court order that has refused to interfere with a single-judge ruling restraining the party from issuing advertisements that are 'violative' of the Model Code of Conduct (MCC) during the Lok Sabha polls.

The matter was mentioned for urgent listing before a vacation bench of Justice Bela M Trivedi and Justice Pankaj Mithal. The bench listed it for hearing on May 27.

On May 22, a division bench of the high court said it was not inclined to entertain the appeal against the interim order passed by the single-judge bench.

The single-judge bench, on May 20, restrained the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) from publishing advertisements that violated the MCC until June 4, the day the Lok Sabha poll results are scheduled to be declared.

The court also restrained the saffron party from publishing the advertisements mentioned by the ruling Trinamool Congress (TMC) in West Bengal, in its petition claiming unverified allegations against it and its workers.

The BJP's plea against the high court order was mentioned before the apex court.

"Why don't you move the next vacation bench?" the bench asked the lawyer who mentioned the matter.

The counsel, who told the bench that the high court has restrained the BJP from issuing advertisements during the Lok Sabha polls till June 4, urged that the matter be listed on May 27.

'List on May 27 before the vacation bench,' the bench said.

The high court's division bench had said that the BJP can approach the single judge for a review or for modifications or a recall of the order.

The ruling party at the Centre had moved the intra-court appeal before the division bench, claiming that the single-judge bench had passed the order without giving it any hearing.

In its petition filed in the apex court, the BJP has said the division bench of the high court ought to have considered that the party was not heard and an ex-parte mandatory injunction was granted at an ad-interim stage by the single judge.

'It is pertinent to highlight that such interim relief granted by the high court was beyond the prayer sought by the All India Trinamool Congress (AITMC/respondent no.1) which was limited only to the grant of interim order directing the ECI (Election Commission of India) to take steps in accordance with law,' it has said.

The plea has claimed that the single judge 'erred by granting an interim injunction' based on the purported violation of the MCC, without taking into consideration that the issue is pending before the EC, which, by virtue of Article 324 read with Article 329 of the Constitution, has the authority to take appropriate action against any political party that violates the MCC.

It has pointed out that aggrieved by the publication of certain advertisements that were allegedly against the spirit of the MCC, the TMC had approached the EC.

It has said on the basis of the TMC's complaint, the EC issued a show-cause notice dated May 18, directing the BJP to file a reply by May 21.

"On May 20, 2024, the writ petition was listed before the high court. The single judge, despite observing that the ECI is seized of the issue and a show-cause notice has been issued, proceeded to pass a blanket interim order, which is in the nature of a final order, thereby restraining the petitioner (BJP) from further continuing with the publication of the allegedly offending advertisements till June 4, 2024 or until further orders," the plea has said.

It has added that the division bench ought to have considered that the matter was heard and the order passed by the single judge in the absence of the BJP, which has a 'significant impact on its ability to canvas during the election'.

"The present petitioner (BJP) was neither given an opportunity of hearing nor an opportunity to controvert the facts giving rise to the instant dispute and for this reason solely, the impugned order is liable to be set aside being bad in law," it has claimed.

"The impugned order has been passed affecting the constitutional guarantees of speech provided to the present petitioner," it has said.

As an interim relief, the plea has sought an ex-parte stay on the operations of the May 20 interim order as well as the May 22 order passed by the high court.

Published 24 May 2024, 17:07 IST

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