‘Name can’t be the test’: Delhi HC rejects plea to de-register political parties | Latest News Delhi - Hindustan Times
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‘Name can’t be the test’: Delhi HC rejects plea to de-register political parties

Dec 14, 2023 04:14 PM IST

The high court was hearing a PIL filed by petitioner lawyer Ashwini Kumar Upadhyay, who argued that such political parties’ names might prejudicially affect the poll prospects of a candidate amounting to a corrupt practice under the Representation of the People Act (RPA), 1951

The Delhi high court on Thursday expressed its reservation in entertaining a plea seeking the de-registration of political parties registered with religious, caste, ethnic, and linguistic connotations and using a flag similar to the national flag, saying the issue lies within the Parliament’s domain.

Delhi high court (Representative Photo)
Delhi high court (Representative Photo)

The high court was of the view that the name of the political parties cannot be a clincher and it is imperative to also consider their policies.

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A division bench of acting chief justice Manmohan said that the issue is in the domain of the Parliament and that the court “does not decide laws.” “Name is not a clincher,” said the bench, adding, “…this is a domain of Parliament, a policy issue and they will take a call on this It is a very grave issue”.

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The division bench was dealing with petitioner lawyer and Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leader Ashwini Kumar Upadhyay’s PIL, who argued that such political parties’ names might prejudicially affect the poll prospects of a candidate amounting to a corrupt practice under the Representation of the People Act (RPA), 1951. Such a step will help ensure free and fair elections, the petition said.

“People do not vote for just the name. You have to see the policies. You will have to see how they are functioning. But all these issues have to be looked into by the Parliament,” said the bench also comprising justice Mini Pushkarna.

Upadhyay then requested the Court should issue some directions to deal with the issue. However, the bench, while refusing to pass any directions, posted the next hearing for May 7, 2024, for further arguments on the matter.

Referring to the political parties such as the Hindu Sena, All India Majlis e Ittehadul Muslimeen and Indian Muslim League, the plea had stated that this violated the RPA and the Model Code of Conduct.

Responding to Upadhyay’s plea, the Election Commission of India (ECI) in 2019 had submitted that in 2005, it took a policy decision to not register any political party having a name with religious connotations and has since registered no such party. It had said that such parties registered before 2005 would not lose their registration for having a name with a religious connotation.

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On Thursday, Upadhyay submitted that the issue was serious as it was against free and fair elections. “Till time, there is no law, there is a vacuum, and this should not continue,” he had said. However, the election watchdog, while reiterating its earlier stand, submitted that since 2005, it had not registered any political party having a name with religious connotations.

To be sure, the Supreme Court in May this year had refused to interfere with a plea filed by Syed Waseem Rizvi, former chairman of Uttar Pradesh Shia Central Board of Waqfa, seeking to ban political parties having religious connotations in their names.

The ECI in Rizvi’s plea had said that the parties in question were legacy names, adding that parties having religious connotations in their names also limit their electoral appeal to one particular group, and it was not beneficial for the electoral prospect of the concerned party.

The ECI had also stated that there was no statutory provision under the RPA that barred the registration of political parties with names having religious connotations.

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