Madhya Pradesh BJP leader Pradyuman Singh Tomar has moved the Supreme Court against a Madhya Pradesh High Court order imposing limits on physical campaigns for the forthcoming state bypolls.
Tomar, contesting from Gwalior, contended that the October 20 order violates the right to organise election campaigns through physical gatherings as permitted bye-election rules and sought a stay on it.
The Election Commission, too, has approached the top court against the high Court order, citing Article 324 of the Constitution which vests in it the authority to conduct the elections and oversee the electoral process.
The commission has contended that this is against its directions regarding gatherings as well as the state’s Covid-19 protocol that lays down the limitations for allowing such congregations.
The High Court order came on a PIL which pointed out that various political parties were holding physical campaigns ignoring the Covid-19 risk and that authorities were turning a blind eye to this.
The High Court said: “In a contest/clash between right to campaigning and right to health and life, it is obvious that the right to health and life takes precedence. Right to health and life is comparatively more exalted, sacred and precious right when compared with the right to canvassing & campaigning. Thus, the right of candidate to campaign has to yield to the right to health and life of the electorate.”
It asked District Magistrates not to grant permission for physical congregations for election campaigns unless it can be proved that conduct of a virtual campaign is not possible, subject to EC approval.
The High Court added that even in the event such approval is granted, “the holding of physical congregation.. can take place only after the political party/candidate intending to hold a congregation deposits money with the District Magistrate which is sufficient to purchase double the number of masks and sanitizers required for protecting and sanitizing the number of persons expected in the congregation and also when candidate files an undertaking on affidavit that he shall be personally liable to distribute masks and sanitizers to all the members of the congregation before the meeting/congregation starts”.
The bypolls to 28 seats are scheduled for November 3.
📣 The Indian Express is now on Telegram. Click here to join our channel (@indianexpress) and stay updated with the latest headlines