SC Tells BJP That Its Ads Against TMC Are Prima Facie Disparaging, Refuses To Interfere With HC Order Stopping BJP’s ‘Derogatory’ Ads Against TMC

New Delhi: The Supreme Court on May 27 refused to entertain BJP’s challenge to a Calcutta High Court order that refused to allow the party to publish advertisements, which allegedly violated the poll code, against the rival Trinamool Congress (TMC).

The party subsequently withdrew the plea, with a liberty from the apex court to to pursue the case in accordance with law.

A bench of justices JK Maheshwari and KV Viswanathan observed that the advertisements were ‘prima facie’ disparaging and refused to entertain the plea.

The two sides are locked in a fierce contest for 42 Lok Sabha seats in West Bengal, which has often forced the Election Commission to intervene and even led to violence between their supporters.

Earlier this month, the High Court restrained the BJP from publishing advertisements against the ruling Trinamool Congress for violation of the model code of conduct.

BJP moved a division bench of the Calcutta HC against this single-judge bench order but got no relief. The BJP moved the Supreme Court against the division bench’s order that upheld the single judge’s order.

“Such interim relief granted by the High Court was beyond the prayer sought by the All India Trinamool Congress (“AITMC”) which was limited only to the grant of interim order directing ECI to take steps in accordance with law,” it said.

The Trinamool Congress approached the Election Commission against the advertisements. While issuing a notice, the poll watchdog reminded the BJP about the model code of conduct, which bars criticism based on unverified allegations, and also its recent advisory against publishing such misleading advertisements.

Justice Sabyasachi Bhattacharyya restrained the BJP from publishing any advertisements that violated of the conduct code till June 4, when the votes would be counted, or until further notice.

The court said the newspaper advertisements violated the conduct code. It also criticised the Election Commission for not addressing the complaints promptly, especially with most phases of the Lok Sabha elections already completed.

The seven-phase Lok Sabha polls enter the final lap, with voting to be held on June 1.

 

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