Complaint filed against 26 opposition political parties for using the name ‘INDIA’ for alliance

The complaint alleges that use of the acronym INDIA is an attempt to mislead the electorate by identifying the alliance with India itself, and violates the Emblems and Names (Prevention of Improper Use) Act, 1950.

ON Wednesday, a complaint was filed against 26 opposition political parties for forming an alliance under the acronym ‘INDIA’, which stands for ‘Indian National Developmental Inclusive Alliance’.

The complaint, filed at the Barakhamba police station in New Delhi in the form of a letter to the inspector-in-charge, seeks to report the “improper” use of the name of the country which to “ put undue influence on the Indian electorate by personifying their alliance as the nation itself”.

In the run-up to the 2024 Lok Sabha elections, leaders of several opposition parties met in Bengaluru on July 17 and 18 to present a united front against the National Democratic Alliance (NDA) led by the Bharatiya Janata Party. 

An 11-member coordination committee is likely to be constituted to address the issues faced by citizens under the NDA government.

The complaint, filed by one Dr Avinish Mishra, is based on newspaper articles and videos of a press conference held in Bengaluru on Tuesday and shared on social media, which reported that an alliance has been formed by the 26 opposition political parties under the acronym INDIA.

The complaint claims that the acronym adopted by the alliance violates Section 3 of the Emblems and Names (Prevention of Improper Use) Act, 1950.

The Act prohibits the improper use of certain emblems and names for professional and commercial purposes.

Section 3 of the Act prohibits the use or colourable imitation of any name or emblem provided under the Schedule of the Act, for the purpose of any trade, business, calling or profession, or in the title of any patent, or in any trademark or design.

The Section mandates prior permission of the Union government for such use of the names or emblems contained in the Schedule of the Act.

Notably, Section 6 of the Act mandates previous sanction of the Union government to initiate prosecution for any offence punishable under the Act.

The Schedule of the Act lists 28 broad categories of names, emblems and official seals. Under its sixth category, the Schedule lists, “The name, emblem or official seal of the President, Governor, Sadar-i-Riyasat or Republic or Union of India” as one of the categories whose use is prohibited.

The complaint claims that since the Schedule of the Act lists the “Union of India” as one of the prohibited names, it can be implied that the use of the name ‘INDIA’ also stands prohibited under the provisions of the Act.

The complaint highlights that Section 2(c) of the Act defines the word “name” to include “any abbreviations of a name”.

Section 5 imposes a penalty of fine up to 500 for violating the provisions of Section 3 of the Act, the complaint states.

However, the claim that the Act prohibits the use of certain names is erroneous, since Sections 3 of the Act clearly states that the names and emblems listed in the Schedule can be used with the prior permission of the Union government. 

Furthermore, the complaint seeks to highlight that the political parties have formed an alliance for electoral purposes— to contest the general elections in 2024.

Due to the alleged possibility of “undue influence on the Indian electorate” and the “personation at the elections”, the complaint claims that the 26 political parties should be prosecuted under Section 171F of the Indian Penal Code (punishment for undue influence and personation at an election).

The complaint alleges that by naming the alliance as ‘INDIA’, the political parties have hurt the sentiments of those who identify themselves as citizens of India.

In view of the alleged violation of laws, it requests the inspector-in-charge to take necessary actions against the political parties.

The Leaflet