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SC seeks EC response on Congress MP's plea alleging MCC violations by PM, Amit Shah


Press Trust of India New Delhi
The Supreme Court Tuesday sought Election Commission's response on a plea by a Congress MP alleging MCC violations by Prime Minister Narendra Modi and BJP chief Amit Shah over their alleged hate speeches and using armed forces for "political propaganda".
A bench headed by Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi said it would hear at Thursday the plea of Sushmita Dev, Congress Lok Sabha MP from Silchar in Assam and President of 'All India Mahila Congress', alleging inaction by EC in deciding complaints against Modi and Shah.
The bench, also comprising Justices S K Kaul and K M Joseph, made clear that it would be open to the EC passing "necessary/appropriate orders on the representation(s) of the petitioner (Dev)".
There have been reports that the poll panel officials would sit on Tuesday to decide complaints of violations of model code of conduct (MCC) by various leaders, including the Prime Minister, the BJP Chief and Congress President Rahul Gandhi, during campaigning for the Lok Sabha elections.
In the forenoon, the bench headed by the CJI said that Dev's plea would be heard by another bench of Justices Deepak Gupta and Sanjiv Khanna at 2 PM in court number 10.
However, later the bench of Justices Gupta and Khanna said that it would not hear the fresh miscellaneous petition and it would be dealt by the appropriate bench.
As a result, the plea was again taken up by the bench headed by the CJI which issued notice to the EC and listed the petition for further hearing on Thursday at 10.30 AM.
Dev has alleged that "inaction" by EC on complaints against top BJP leaders was "a sign of invidious discrimination" as also "arbitrary, capricious and impermissible" as it was destructive of the integrity of electoral process.
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).
It has been alleged that BJP leaders have been violating MCC during last four weeks and the EC has not taken any decisions on as many as 40 complaints of Congress party.
"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.
Modi had also allegedly raised the issue of the Congress President fighting polls from Wayanad in Kerala, it said.
"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.

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First Published: Apr 30 2019 | 7:45 PM IST

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