In the heat of the electoral battle, political party leaders end up perhaps saying too much, or so it seems, if the cases filed in this regard are anything to go by. At least three such cases have been filed over the past month in the local courts.
Consider this: A local court has issued notice to BJP prime ministerial candidate Narendera Modi and party affairs in charge Chandigarh, Aarti Mehra for allegedly 'disrespecting' Mahatma Gandhi during a recent rally here. Almost all parties and leaders are facing court on one statement or the other.
Most such cases are filed with a prayer to the court to restrain leaders from issuing statements that reportedly hurt public sentiment. Other seek unconditional apology.
Opinion is divided on the matter.
"Such petitions are double-edged swords targeted at political leaders and celebrities are soft targets. Mostly, these are publicity stunts. The irony, however, is that such cases usually keep dragging," said advocate Chetan Mittal.
"During elections, leaders end up making speeches that are offensive. NGOs and others might have had a good motive in filing the case, but can end up being exploitative. Such petitions are mostly publicity stunts," said advocate Ashok Aggarwal.
However, advocate Shiv Murti Yadav, chairman of All Indian Human Rights Organisation, said, "These petitions have nothing to do with publicity. Political leaders cannot be allowed to build their image by disrespecting national leaders. The delay in disposal of these cases is due to the
non-seriousness of political parties who do not turn up most of the times."
Cases at glance
April 1, 2014: All Indian Human Rights Organisation files a case against BJP prime ministerial candidate Narendra Modi and party affairs incharge Chandigarh, Aarti Mehra, alleging that the BJP leaders, while addressing a rally in Sector 34 on March 30, disrespected Mahatma Gandhi by saying "Majboori ka naam Mahatma Gandhi, majbooti ka naam Narendra Modi (roughly translated (…being trapped is Mahatama Gandhi, being strong is Narendra Modi.) The court has issued notice for April 9.
March 4: SAS Nagar resident advocate Mandeep Kaur moved court accusing the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) of disrespecting the national flag. She had alleged that during a rally held in Panchkula on February 22, AAP supporters were carrying brooms (Jhadu), the symbol of the party, along with the flag and this was against the provisions of the Flag Code of India, the Representation of People Act and the Prevention of Insult to National Honour Act. The court had issued notice and AAP is yet to file a reply.
December 2011: Advocate Shiv Murti Yadav filed a petition against Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi accusing him of hurting the sentiments of people belonging to Bihar and Uttar Pradesh. Allegations are that Gandhi, in Phulpur (Varanasi) on November 14, 2011, had reportedly said, "People of Uttar Pradesh are appreciated for hard work wherever they go in search of a job... How long will you beg in Maharashtra (for work)? How long will you work as a labourers in Punjab?" The petition is pending for reply.