A Delhi High Court bench of Chief Justice Rajender Menon and Justice Anup Jairam Bhambhani on Friday issued a notice to the Centre and the Election Commission (EC) on plea seeking that political parties with registered names that carry caste, ethnic, regional or linguistic connotations be given three months to rename their parties or face de-registration.
The notice followed a PIL filed by Delhi lawyer Ashwini Kumar Upadhyay who said that there are “are many political parties such as Hindu Sena, All India Majlis-e-Ittehadul Muslimeen, Indian Union Muslim League etc. with religious, caste, ethnic, linguistic connotations. In addition, there are political parties including Indian National Congress, which use a flag similar to the national flag, which is against the spirit of Section 123 of the RPA, 1951. Petitioner is filing this petition to review the political parties, registered with religious, caste, ethnic, linguistic connotations and use the flag similar to national flag, and de-register them if they fail to rename and change their flag within three months”.
The petition said that “to vote or refrain from voting any person on the grounds of religion, race, caste, community or language or the use of, or appeal to, religious symbols or the use of, or appeal to, national symbols, such as national flag or national emblem, for the furtherance of the prospects of the election of the candidate or for prejudicially affecting the election of any candidate, is a corrupt practice under Section 123(3) of the RPA 1951”.
He further said: “Free and Fair election is essential to achieve the great golden goals as set out in Preamble of the Constitution of India. Under the Article 324, Superintendence, direction and control of the election is vested in the Election Commission of India and it has complete autonomy to take appropriate steps, essential to ensure a free and fair election in the Country. In a catena of decisions, the Supreme Court has held that wherever enacted laws are silent or insufficient, the Election Commission of India has residuary powers to act in an appropriate manner. Therefore, keeping in view the above-stated facts and to ensure free and fair election in the spirit of Article 324 of the Constitution:
- Please review the political parties, registered with religious, caste, ethnic or linguistic connotations and de-register them if they fail to rename within three months;
- Please review the flags of the political parties to ensure that they are not using a flag, similar to the national flag and de-register them if they fail to change it within three months.”
The matter will again be heard on July 17.
—India Legal Bureau