MAY 3, Friday
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Decide on Modi, Amit Shah ‘hate speeches’ by May 6, SC tells EC
Congress has alleged that the poll body was not applying rules uniformly
The Supreme Court on Thursday gave the Election Commission of India (EC) time till May 6 to take a final call on the complaints filed by the Congress against the alleged hate speeches and misuse of the armed forces as political propaganda by Prime Minister Narendra Modi and BJP president Amit Shah.
The Commission repeatedly protested, saying it would need time to call for the entire transcript of the speeches and decide the context of the allegedly offending words in them. This would take time, it said.
“So, you have today, then Friday and even Sunday… You can do it,” Chief Justice of India Ranjan Gogoi told the Commission, represented by senior advocate Rakesh Dwivedi.
Mr. Dwivedi submitted that there were a total of 11 complaints against the two leaders. “Of this, four have been effectively decided. We need time till at least next Wednesday to decide on the rest,” he said.
But the court put its foot down. “You come on Monday,” CJI Gogoi responded.
Senior advocate A.M. Singhvi began the hearing by submitting that the EC had not decided on the complaints for the past three weeks. “What was spoken by them [Modi and Shah] cannot be taken back… the damage caused is irreversible. But the EC has to take a decision by tomorrow [Friday],” he submitted.
In one of the most direct attacks on the EC, a 146-page petition filed by Congress lawmaker Sushmita Dev, represented by advocate Sunil Fernandes, alleged that there was one set of rules for Mr. Modi and Mr. Shah and another for the rest of the candidates.
The Congress said several representations of “violation” of the model code of conduct were made to the EC, but no action had been forthcoming from the poll body, which should be devoted to the concept of free and fair elections in a democracy.
Since March 10, when the general election was notified, Mr. Modi and Mr. Shah had “specifically in sensitive areas and States, ex facie violated the provisions of the Representation of the People Act and the election rules and the process,” the petition said.