Monday, September 26, 2022

Delhi High Court rejects plea calling Ganesh Chaturthi ads by Delhi govt amid Covid-19 illegal, unconstitutional

The plea also sought for initiation of criminal action against Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal as well as other ministers for using public funds for promoting politically vested interests.

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The Delhi High Court on Thursday refused to entertain a plea, alleging that the release of advertisements on various television channels by Delhi government in respect of organising Ganesh Chaturthi celebrations amid the Covid-19 pandemic were illegal and unconstitutional.

The Division Bench, led by Chief Justice D.N. Patel and also comprising Justice Jyoti Singh, said they were not even inclined to issue notice in the matter on the ground that the petition has been filed without annexing the alleged ‘advertisements’.

“Where are the advertisements?….How can we allow your matter without looking at the advertisements?,” the Bench asked petitioner and Advocate Manohar Lal Sharma.

He responded that he tried to record the advertisement, but did not succeed. 

Petition without ‘homework’

The Bench orally remarked that the petition was filed without doing any ‘homework’. At this stage, Sharma expressed his willingness to withdraw the present petition with a liberty to file a fresh petition with proper averments, allegations and annexures. The Bench granted liberty to Sharma to file a fresh litigation in accordance with law before appropriate forum and accordingly, the petition was disposed of as withdrawn. 

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According to Sharma, on September 7, 2021, he came across an advertisement, which was being shown on CNBC, calling in people to join the ‘Ganesh Puja’ organised by the Delhi Government. He alleged that the said advertisement is being shown on various television channels since the past 10-15 days. The plea claimed that it was being funded by the state government for political and electoral gain and was liable to be stopped.

It further added that this act of Delhi Government was contrary to Articles 14, 21 and 25, and violated the basic structure of the Constitution.

In light of the above, the petitioner prayed for declaring religious promotion by the Centre and the Delhi Government to be illegal, arbitrary and unconstitutional, as it was in violation of the apex court order in case of S.R. Bommai vs Union of India. In addition, the petitioner prayed for declaring conduct of religious ceremony or promotion by the Delhi Government from State treasury and release of advertisement in respect of the same, to be illegal, arbitrary and unconstitutional. 

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The plea also sought initiation of criminal action against Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal as well as other Ministers for using public funds for promoting politically-vested interests.

“Under our Constitution, there shall be no religion in politics just as there shall be no politics in religion,” the plea mentioned.

Recently, the Delhi Disaster Management Authority (DDMA) had issued a notification, prohibiting Ganesh Chaturthi celebrations at public places in the national capital in view of the Covid-19 pandemic.

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