Delhi HC grants more time to Oppn parties to reply to PIL against ‘INDIA’ usage

The Election Commission (EC) had filed its counter-affidavit, and has said that it cannot regulate political alliances under the Representation of People Act.

New Delhi: The Delhi High Court on Wednesday granted more time to several Opposition parties including the Congress, Trinamool Congress and the DMK to respond to a PIL seeking direction to stop the opposition parties from using acronym INDIA (Indian National Developmental Inclusive Alliance) for their bloc.

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A division bench of Acting Chief Justice Manmohan and Justice Mini Pushkarna also granted more time to the Centre to file its reply in the matter.

Earlier on October 31, the court had granted more time to the Centre to respond to the Public Interest Litigation (PIL). Appearing for the Centre, Additional Solicitor General Chetan Sharma said: “We need a week-ten days more time to put in our reply.”

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On the other hand, senior advocate Abhishek Manu Singhvi representing the nine political parties said there were “preliminary objections” against the petition and the Supreme Court has already dealt with the issue.

The bench has now listed the matter for hearing next on January 4.

The Election Commission (EC) had filed its counter-affidavit, and has said that it cannot regulate political alliances under the Representation of People Act.

The court had then, during the last hearing, noted that only the EC has filed a response and some of the political parties named in the proceedings have not been served notice yet. Counsel for the petitioner, businessman Girish Bharadwaj had said that the matter required to be dealt with urgently, as the parties were using “the name of the country” and the national flag.

Singhvi had argued that the petition is not maintainable. The writ petition, 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 claims.

Citing alleged 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.

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