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Delhi High Court today issued notice to the Delhi government, Delhi Police and the Election Commission against petitions filed by a group of autorickshaw drivers. The group had moved the Delhi High Court challenging their challans charged by traffic police authorities for displaying a political sticker “I love Kejriwal ” on their vehicles.

The petitioners had reported that the police authorities had slapped challan worth Rs 10,000 on them. The petitions claim that this action violates their fundamental right to free speech and they could not be penalised for “expressing their opinion in a permitted manner”.

“The the petitioner had got painted words “I love Kejriwal” and “Sirf kejriwal” on the back of his vehicle in September-October 2019, of his free will and without any coercion, allurement, inducement, monetary incentive or force from anyone,” read one petition.

According to one petitioner, his vehicle was stopped near Apollo hospital by traffic officials where he was illegally charged for permit violations under various provisions of the Motor Vehicle Act, 1988.

The plea said that the petitioner was prosecuted for displaying an “advertisement of a political party” and violating the model code of conduct in force in the city due to the upcoming Delhi assembly elections.

A second petition filed by three auto rickshaw drivers seeks similar relief, as they were fined by traffic authorities “for painting a statement of adulation/admiration for a public figure on their vehicles”. Citing a 2018 High Court order, the the petitioners highlighted that even if the symbols were seen as political advertisement, these were exempted from the Delhi Motor Vehicle Rules as per government’s statement in court.

The next date for the hearing is March 3.

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