An election symbol cannot be a political party’s private property and, therefore, the Election Commission can deprive a particular party from using the symbol in case of its dismal performance, the Supreme Court has ruled.
Dismissing Janata Party leader Surbramanium Swamy's plea to direct the Election Commission (EC) to freeze his party symbol, Chakra Haldar, a bench of Justices Ashok Bhan and V.S. Sirpurkar said: “The symbol may be an outcome of intellectual exercise, but it does not become an intellectual property which concept has monetary implications. In case of a political party as contemplated in the Symbols Order, monetary angle is conspicuously absent.”
Adding that the EC could clamp down on the political party's right to use the symbol if it performs poorly in the elections. “We are, therefore, not in a position to accept the argument that the symbol is the property of a party and cannot be taken away,” it said.
Swamy had approached the SC after the EC ceased to recognise Janata Party as a national party after its poor performance in the 1996 General Elections.