The Election Commission (EC) on Monday banned Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath and Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) supremo Mayawati from election campaigning for 72 hours and 48 hours, respectively, starting from 6 am on Tuesday, for violating the Model Code of Conduct by making objectionable statements in their speeches, reported news agency ANI. The EC action came after the Supreme Court took note of the alleged hate speeches made by Mayawati and Yogi Adityanath during campaigns and sought to know from the poll panel about the action initiated against them so far. The Election Commission "strongly condemned" Adityanath and Mayawati for their communal remarks. The two have also been "censured". Mayawati was issued the notice for her speech in Deoband appealing to Muslims to not vote for a particular party.
The BSP chief had prima facie violated the model code of conduct, the poll panel found.Adityanath was served the notice for his "Ali" and "Bajrang Bali" remarks while addressing a rally in Meerut. He compared the Lok Sabha elections to a contest between 'Ali', a revered figure in Islam, and Bajrang Bali, the Hindu god Hanuman.
A bench headed by Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi summoned a representative of the EC for Tuesday while agreeing to examine the poll panel's contention that it has limited legal power to deal with hate speeches of politicians during electioneering.
The bench referred to submissions of the EC that they can issue notice, then advisory and finally lodge a complaint against an errant politician for violating the Model Code of Conduct (MCC) by giving hate speeches based on caste and religion during campaign.
"The EC says they are toothless. They say that they first issue notice, then advisory and then complain," the bench said, adding it would examine the aspect relating to poll panel's power to deal with hate speeches during poll campaign.
The counsel appearing for poll panel said that it has already issued notices against the two politicians.
"Tell us what actions you have taken against Mayawati and Yogi Adityanath," the bench asked and fixed the matter for tomorrow.
The bench was hearing a PIL filed by an NRI Yoga teacher based in Sharjah in the United Arab Emirates (UAE), seeking a direction to the EC to take "strict action" against political parties if their spokespersons make remarks based on caste and religion in the media in the run up to general elections.