‘If you don’t like toolkit, ignore it’: SC junks plea for probe
ReutersThe Supreme Court on Monday rejected a demand for a probe into the alleged “toolkit”, labelling such material as propaganda by a political party that can be ignored by those who disagree with it.
“This is part of political chaff, the political propaganda of a political party. If you do not like the toolkit, ignore it,” observed a bench of Justices DY Chandrachud and MR Shah, declining to entertain a petition filed by a lawyer, Shashank Shekhar Jha.
The controversy over a toolkit, essentially a media outreach and social campaign document, erupted in May when Bharatiya Janata Party leaders tweeted a copy of the document, which the party said, was prepared by the Congress to build a biased narrative against the Narendra Modi government for its handling of Covid and the Central Vista project. The Congress claimed the toolkit was forged.
Jha wanted a federal investigating agency such as the National Investigation Agency (NIA) to probe the role of the Congress and ascertain whether offences under sedition, criminal conspiracy or offences under the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act were made out by the release of the alleged toolkit. If the charges were established, the petition wanted the Election Commission to suspend Congress’ registration.
In his public interest litigation (PIL), Jha also wanted the top court to restrain political parties from putting up hoardings that show the country or the government in poor light, ban the use of images of funerals, dead bodies and calling out one religion for the spread of the coronavirus disease in the country.
The bench found the petition to be vague and the prayers in it “frivolous”.
“India is a democracy. Such kind of general orders cannot be passed. People who are aggrieved have other remedies (to lodge criminal cases) under law,” observed the bench. Jha eventually withdrew the petition.
“These are general directions you are seeking. The time of the Supreme Court is taken away by these frivolous petitions. You come with some specific case,” the bench said, referring to Jha’s request to pass a general order that barred hoardings that affect the image of India or the Prime Minister.