Plea seeks to de-recognise AAP, HC seeks Centre, Delhi govt, ECI responses
New Delhi: The Delhi high court on Monday sought the response of the Centre, Delhi government and Election Commission of India on a plea seeking de-recognition of the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) for organising and promoting Ganesh Chaturthi celebrations using funds from the state coffers.
A bench of chief justice DN Patel and justice Amit Bansal issued notices to only the three authorities and not to the chief minister and other cabinet ministers of the Delhi government.
It granted time to the authorities to file their reply on the plea by advocate M L Sharma seeking direction to de-recognise AAP as a political party and remove chief minister Arvind Kejriwal and other ministers from the constitutional office due to alleged deliberate breach of the Constitution and the Representation of People’s Act in the interest of general public.
“Keep your answer ready next time as to what you want to say on the issues involved in this writ petition,” the court said.
Advocate Sharma said that the state cannot be allowed to fund the Haj pilgrimage from the state exchequer.
The plea was opposed by senior advocate Rahul Mehra, representing the Delhi government, arguing that it was a totally motivated and mischievous petition coloured as a public interest litigation (PIL), and needs to be dismissed with heavy costs.
He also said the decision was taken to prevent religious congregations amid the Covid-19 pandemic and as the Delhi government had prohibited setting up of pandals to prevent overcrowding, the chief minister had merely requested the media to cover the celebration for citizens’ participation from their residences.
Mehra said the government facilitating religious celebration is not new and it is done every time during the Kumbh Mela and Amarnath Yatra, pointing out that it is the solemn duty of the state to protect public health.
“It is a mischievous petition. An attempt is being made through this petition that somehow some kind of communal disharmony should be instigated,” Mehra contended.
“Various governments across the board… There are Kumbh Mela, Amarnath Yatra, Mansorvar Yatra. It is the solemn duty of the State and the Union that the people who have certain faith, their public health is looked into, they are given good kind of facilities while these yatras are there. It is a laudable objective,” he further said.
The plea, while seeking registration of an FIR, has also sought to declare that religious ceremony or promotion or funding for religious work or trust in any manner by the state treasury attracts sections 408 (criminal breach of trust) and 420 (cheating) of IPC. It also sought to declare this act as illegal, arbitrary and unconstitutional.
The petition said the AAP-led Delhi government organised a Ganesh Chaturthi event on September 10 which was broadcast live on television channels. It said in terms of the constitutional mandate laid down by the Supreme Court, the state cannot promote religious celebrations.
The high court had earlier dismissed Sharma’s plea seeking to declare as illegal the Delhi government’s move of organising Ganesh Chaturthi from state treasury and releasing advertisement, saying the petition was filed hurriedly and without doing proper homework. It granted him liberty to file a fresh plea with proper averments.