Delhi HC grants last chance to Oppn parties to reply to PIL against ‘INDIA’ usage

New Delhi: The Delhi High Court on Tuesday granted the last chance to several opposition parties including the Congress, TMC and the DMK to respond within a week to a PIL seeking direction to stop using the acronym INDIA (Indian National Developmental Inclusive Alliance) for their bloc.

A division bench of Acting Chief Justice Manmohan and Justice Manmeet Pritam Singh refused to advance the hearing of Public Interest Litigation (PIL) by businessman Girish Bharadwaj, aiming for resolution before the first phase of the Lok Sabha election scheduled for April 19.

Despite Bharadwaj’s counsel pushing for an earlier hearing date due to the impending elections and the PIL’s stagnation since its filing in August of the previous year, the bench chose to retain the original hearing date of April 10.

The counsel stressed delays and alleged mala fide behaviour by respondent political parties in filing their responses, while the Election Commission of India (ECI), through Advocate Sidhant Kumar, noted its reply was already submitted.

The court, reaffirming its schedule, granted a final opportunity for respondents to file counter affidavits within a week.

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

The court had then 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 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.

On the contrary, it was 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 from using 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 the use of acronym by political parties involved.

In August last year, the high court issued a notice to the Central government in Bharadwaj’s PIL.

“…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 the 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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