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Plea in Supreme Court against Madhya Pradesh High Court order restricting physical gathering in election campaign

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New Delhi (ILNS): A Petition has been filed in the Supreme Court against the interim order passed by High Court of Madhya Pradesh allowing political parties to conduct the election campaign by virtual mode and not by physical gathering.

The petition has been filed by BJP Leader, Pradyumn Singh Tomar who is himself contesting by-elections from Gwalior.

The High court passed the order on October 20. The petitioner alleged the order was in violation of Covid-19 guidelines issued on September 29 by the Election Commission of India, Covid-19 guidelines issued on October 8 by the Central Government and the State of Madhya Pradesh, respectively.

On a PIL filed in the high court, the court restrained the district magistrate of all districts from issuing any permission to any political party or candidate unless the district magistrate is satisfied that conduct of virtual election campaign is not possible.

The high court had further directed that the holding of physical campaign by the political party where the permission is granted by the district magistrate and approved by the Election Commission, shall take place only after the political party deposits the money with DM which is sufficient to purchase double the number of masks and sanitizers required for protecting the number of persons expected in the gathering.

Tomar, has submitted that the order of the high court is completely erroneous and without jurisdiction. Further ,the high court in complete disregard of orders passed by the Election Commission of India; Central Government and the State of Madhya Pradesh, directed the political parties to conduct election campaign only be virtual mode. The restraint on District Magistrates in issuing permission for public gathering and the condition to deposit double the money for masks and sanitizers is completely without jurisdiction.

The petitioner has further contented that: “The high court has no jurisdiction to substitute the Guidelines issued by the Election Commission; Central Government and the State Government. The superintendence, direction and control over the conduct of elections in exclusively within the domain of the Election Commission as held in Mohinder Singh Gill vs. The Chief Election Commissioner, (1978) 1 SCC 405and could not have been substituted by the High Court.”

The petitioner has submitted that the interim order has violated his right to conduct election campaign through physical gatherings as permitted by the Election Commission; Central Government and State of Madhya Pradesh.

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