Updated: July 6, 2021 1:22:17 am
The Supreme Court on Monday declined to entertain a petition seeking a probe by the National Investigation Agency (NIA) into allegations that the Congress party had created a “toolkit” to run a smear campaign against the NDA government and the country in the wake of Covid-19.
The court told the petitioner that such material is part of political propaganda, that India is a democracy, and that if he did not like the toolkit, he should simply ignore it.
“If you don’t like the toolkit, ignore… This is a part of political propaganda. If you don’t like it, ignore it,” Justice D Y Chandrachud, heading a two-judge bench with Justice M R Shah, told the petitioner, Advocate Shashank Shekhar Jha, who had filed a writ petition under Article 32 of the Constitution.
The petitioner sought to argue that the so-called toolkit contained communal propaganda. “The term like ‘Indian strain’ (for the variant of the coronavirus first detected in India, which is now known as the Delta variant) or communalising Hindus”, he said, and added that “Singapore too has banned terms like Singapore strain”.
But the bench made it clear that it could not grant his prayer. “India is a democracy, you know. Why should we issue directions under Article 32? We will not entertain this,” Justice Chandrachud responded.
The judge wondered how the court could control forms of political propaganda, and rued that the precious time of the court was being lost in hearing frivolous petitions.
Justice Shah pointed out that criminal proceedings were already pending in the “toolkit” matter, and remarked that the petition should look for remedies other than under Article 32.
Following this, the petitioner chose to withdraw his plea.
The BJP had alleged in May that the Congress had created a ‘toolkit’ with instructions to its social media influencers and party strategists on how to “corner the Modi government and various BJP governments in the country” over their handling of the Covid situation. The Congress had said that the document was “forged”.
In his plea, Jha had urged the court to issue directions to the Centre to register a preliminary inquiry with regard to the “toolkit”, and to secure its custody. He had also sought de-registration of the Congress if the allegations were found to be true.
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