Supreme Court to examine the scope of Election Commission’s powers to deal with violation of Model Code and hate speeches by politicians

[dropcap]A[/dropcap] three-judge bench of the Supreme Court, comprising Chief Justice of India (CJI) Ranjan Gogoi, Justices Deepak Gupta and Sanjiv Khanna today decided to examine the scope of the powers of the Election Commission of India (ECI) to deal with cases relating to the violation of the Model Code of Conduct (MCC) and hate speeches by politicians, after the ECI submitted that it could only issue notices, advisories and at the most lodge a criminal complaint against those violating the MCC.

The ECI said it had no powers to disqualify candidates violating the MCC and making hate speech during the election period.   

The Court has fixed the matter for tomorrow, April 16, 2019. It has also directed the ECI to depute a suitable officer to be present in the Court for assisting it in the matter.

Today’s order has come on a petition seeking action against political party representatives and spokespersons who make speeches or remarks on religious or caste lines. In particular, during the hearing held today, the Court referred to the remark made by BSP Chief Mayawati and UP Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath, both of who appealed for votes on the basis of religion.

Senior advocate Sanjay Hedge appearing for petitioner Harpreet Mansukhani submitted that under Article 324 of the Constitution of India, the ECI had wide powers and that proposition had found support in several decisions of the Supreme Court.