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Petition against AAP over Delhi govt’s Ganesh Chaturthi event, HC issues notice

Senior advocate Rahul Mehra, representing the government, calls PIL politically motivated, asks court to dismiss it with costs.

The division bench of Chief Justice D N Patel and Justice Amit Bansal listed the matter for further hearing on November 8 after the counsel representing the authorities sought time to file their replies. (File)

THE DELHI High Court Monday asked the Centre, Delhi government and Election Commission of India (ECI) to respond to a petition seeking derecognition of the Aam Aadmi Party. A PIL filed before the court has alleged that the AAP-government organised and promoted a Ganesh Chaturthi puja on September 10 in contravention of the Constitution, which declares India a secular country.

The division bench of Chief Justice D N Patel and Justice Amit Bansal listed the matter for further hearing on November 8 after the counsel representing the authorities sought time to file their replies. “Keep your answer ready next time that what do you want to say on the issues involved in this writ petition,” the court told the counsel representing Delhi government and Centre.

The petitioner, advocate M L Sharma, argued before the court that AAP and its ministers had taken an oath that they will remain loyal to the Constitution of India. The State and any person connected to it are not allowed to organise any kind of religious activity, he contended.

Sharma’s petition also seeks registration of an FIR in the matter. The petition alleges that the government released a “heavy amount” to various television channels to advertise the puja, which was broadcasted live on September 10.

Senior advocate Rahul Mehra, representing the government, argued it was a politically motivated petition and asked the court to dismiss it with costs. “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.

Mehra submitted that the government had taken the initiative — the live broadcast of Ganesh Chaturthi puja — on account of the Covid pandemic and there was no violation of any law or the Constitution. Delhi was probably the only state which banned Ganesh Chaturthi celebration on a mass-scale to prevent the third wave, he told the court.

“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,” Mehra argued.

The counsel representing the ECI submitted that there is no such power vested in the commission for deregistration or derecognition of a political party once it is registered. There are very limited grounds when it can happen, he added.

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