Thursday, 18 April, 2019

Yogi Adityanath, Mayawati censured, barred from campaigning for 72, 48 hours respectively

Are you toothless to deal with hate speech: SC to EC India's top court questions election commission on action against perpetrators of hate speech
Jeannette Daniel | 16 April, 2019, 03:34

Days later, hitting out at Mayawati, Yogi Adityanath said, "If the Congress, the SP and the BSP have faith in Ali, then we too have faith in Bajrang Bali" - a comment that triggered outraged protests from the opposition.

The Election Commission on Monday barred Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath from a poll campaign for 72-hour long and Bahujan Samaj Party chief Mayawati for 48 hours respectively, starting 6 am on Tuesday, April 16. The SC, in its order, referred to the stringent provisions of the Representation of the People Act under Sections 123 (3) and 125, which if used, could see a candidate getting disqualified if he or his election agent appealed to voters in the name of religion or made any hate speech.

A bench headed by Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi summoned a representative of the poll panel on Tuesday, while agreeing to examine its contention that it has limited legal power to deal with hate speeches of politicians during electioneering. "The explanation shall be submitted within 24 hours of the receipt of the notice, failing which the commission shall take a decision without further reference", Principal Secretary, Election Commission, Anuj Jaipuriar had said.

Within a couple of hours, the poll body - which earlier issued notices to Yogi Adiyanath and Mayawati - ordered a ban, invoking special powers under Article 324 of the Constitution.

"This is the first show cause and action against the BSP president ... the severity of the action is, therefore, different", he said.

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During the hearing, the bench asked the counsel for EC as to what action they have taken against Mayawati and Yogi Adityanath for alleged hate speeches.

The apex court said then it was appropriate to examine the scope of powers of the poll panel which is also a constitutional body. The Election Commission told the court that it can merely issue notice, then an advisory and lodge a criminal complaint in the case of repeated violations. The ban will start from 6 am tomorrow, for violating the EC's Model Code of Conduct by making objectionable statements in their speeches.

He compared the Lok Sabha elections to a contest between "Ali", a revered figure in Islam, and Bajrang Bali, the Hindu god Hanuman.

The EC had taken a similar step in the 2014 Lok Sabha polls when it had banned BJP leader Amit Shah and SP leader Azam Khan from campaigning in Uttar Pradesh on April 11 for their controversial remarks.

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