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Calcutta HC Pulls up ECI for Failure to Restrain Bengal BJP of Issuing Derogatory Anti-TMC Ads

Calcutta HC Pulls up ECI for Failure to Restrain Bengal BJP of Issuing Derogatory Anti-TMC Ads

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NEW DELHI, May 20: The Calcutta high court on Monday pulled up the Election Commission of India (ECI) for not addressing complaints raised against the BJP for newspaper advertisements that appear to violate the Model Code of Conduct (MCC), and restrained the BJP from publishing any more such advertisements.

“In the present case, the ECI has grossly failed to address the complaints raised by the petitioner (TMC) in due time. This court is surprised that no resolution worth the name has been arrived at regarding the complaints till date, more so because most of the phases of the election are already over,” a bench of Justice Sabyasachi Bhattacharyya said after going through the advertisements produced by the TMC.

The BJP published at least four advertisements this month in vernacular newspapers that portrayed the ruling TMC as a corrupt party, anti-Hindu and claimed that women were not safe in its regime.

“Perusal of the impugned advertisements, clearly evince that those were in violation of the letter and spirit of the MCC. It is also clear that the allegations in the form of advertisements made against the petitioner are outright derogatory and definitely intended at insulting the rivals and levelling personal attacks,” the bench said. MCC prohibits parties and candidates from levelling unverified allegations.

The election watchdog’s lawyer tried to convince the high court that the commission did take steps. The court was told that one complaint was taken up by West Bengal’s chief electoral officer, and in another, the case was sent to the media certification and monitoring committee for necessary action. In another case, the matter was sent to ECI headquarters. The high court was not impressed.

“This court is not satisfied that any of the so-called resolutions are resolutions in the real sense of the term. It is merely an exercise by the ECI of passing of buck regarding the complaints made by the petitioner,” the bench said.

In one instance, the ECI issued notice to Bengal BJP president Sukanta Majumdar on May 14 on a complaint filed by TMC on May 4. TMC, which has long accused ECI of favouring the BJP, went on the offensive after the high court’s prima facie findings.

Bengal minister Chandrima Bhattacharya said: “The Calcutta high court has passed an important order. It said that such advertisements shouldn’t have been published. They are derogatory and have violated the MCC. It also stated that the ECI should have taken a significant step.”

“ECI’s conduct throughout this election has been shameful. At every given opportunity, rules have been bent to favour Modi & BJP. Now even Calcutta HC has strongly rebuked the ECI for failing to take action on BJP’s fake & disparaging ads about @AITCofficial. The Hon’ble court has also restrained BJP & banned the ads. This is an election where the ECI openly bats for the ruling party,” Saket Gokhale, TMC Rajya Sabha MP, wrote on X.

(Manas Dasgupta)



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