New Delhi: The Election Commission (EC), in its counter-affidavit filed before the Delhi High Court in a PIL seeking direction to stop the opposition parties from using acronym INDIA (Indian National Developmental Inclusive Alliance) for their bloc, has said that it cannot regulate political alliances under the Representation of People Act.
The writ petition, filed by businessman Girish Bharadwaj, contends that to date, the poll panel has not taken any action on the representation given by him to prevent the respondent political parties to use the acronym INDIA. It is his case that the acronym has been used only to take undue advantages in the upcoming general elections in 2024.
In its reply, the EC, cited a decision of the Kerala High Court that there is no statutory provision mandating the constitutional body to regulate the functioning of political alliances, but said its reply should not be seen as an expression of its opinion on the legality of use of the acronym by the political parties involved.
In August, the high court had issued notice to the Central government in Bharadwaj’s PIL.
A division bench headed by Chief Justice Satish Chandra Sharma and comprising Justice Amit Mahajan had sought response from the Central government, the EC, and 26 political parties.
The court had remarked that this has case to be heard.
“It requires hearing,” it had said.
“…practice of using the acronym I.N.D.I.A. (Indian National Developmental Inclusive Alliance)/INDIA of respondent political parties are only to attract and gain sympathy and votes of the innocent citizen and to use as a tool for political benefit and also to give a nudge or a spark which may lead to political hatred which eventually will lead to political violence,” the PIL says.
Citing violation of Emblems and Names (Prevention of Improper Use) Act, 1950, and relevant Rules, Bharadwaj has said that the acronym being the essential part of the national emblem cannot be used for any professional, commercial purpose, and political purpose.
“…the selfish act of these political parties may adversely affect the peaceful, transparent and fair casting of votes during the upcoming general election of 2024 which may expose the citizens to unwarranted violence and also affect the law and order of the country,” the plea reads.
The petitioner has also mentioned the statements of West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee and Congress leader Rahul Gandhi, and has said that they have presented the name of their alliance as the name of the nation and tried to show that the NDA/BJP and Prime Minister Narendra Modi is in conflict with the nation.