Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal’s Aam Aadmi Party Tuesday moved the Delhi High Court, seeking directions that another party called the ‘Aapki Apni Party (Peoples)’ be restrained from using the battery torch symbol.
AAP, in its petition before Justice Yogesh Khanna, alleged that the Election Commission had, without application of mind, conceded and allotted the battery torch symbol to the ‘Aapki Apni Party’. The petition, however, could not be heard as the bench did not assemble Tuesday. It will now be heard on February 1.
How symbols are allotted
The EC has two lists of symbols: reserved and free. While reserved symbols are allotted to candidates sponsored by recognised state or national parties, a list of free symbols is prepared for independent candidates or those affiliated to unrecognised parties. According to EC, the second category of candidates have to choose three symbols from the list of free symbols, which are allotted during nomination.
It said the poll panel failed to appreciate that the battery torch, with rays of light on top, is deceptively similar to AAP’s broom symbol, which is likely to confuse voters. “The name of Respondent No. 2 (Aapki Apni Party) is confusingly similar to that of petitioner (AAP),” said the plea filed through advocate R Arunadhri Iyer.
The plea claimed that despite a protest in this regard, the poll panel had on December 21 allotted the battery torch symbol to Aapki Apni Party for 41 constituencies across six states, and for an unspecified number of constituencies in Delhi and Haryana.
AAP objected to the registration of ‘Aapki Apni Party’ as a new political party. It said the abbreviation of both parties would be the same, which could confuse voters, and sought de-registration of the party.
The plea said that on January 1 this year, the party was “shocked and surprised” to discover that ‘Aapki Apni Party’ is mischievously using deceptive symbol in its publicity material, along with other literature, to confuse voters.
The plea sought directions to the poll panel to instruct all its returning officers in 41 constituencies, as well as in Delhi and Haryana, to refrain from allotting the battery torch, or any other symbol similar to AAP’s, to candidates set up by the ‘Aapki Apni Party’.
During the 2013 Assembly polls, AAP had complained to the EC that due to similarity in the broom and torch symbols, voters were being misled.
The party had said that they lost several seats during the 2013 election because independent candidates, some with names similar to AAP candidates, had used the pen nib with seven rays, shuttlecock and torch symbol to confuse voters.
Independent candidates from Janakpuri and Kalkaji, both with the torch as their symbol, polled more votes than the margin by which AAP candidates lost. The EC had then removed the torch from the ‘free list’ of symbols. The symbol was also changed to look less like a broom. In January 2017, AAP’s Delhi leaders had objected to the use of another free poll symbol, the okra, claiming it looked similar to the broom.