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Delhi HC grants more time to Centre on PIL seeking ban on political parties having names with religious connotation

Political parties

New Delhi: The Central government has been given an additional four weeks to respond to a plea asking for the banning of political parties with names that have caste, religious, ethnic, or linguistic connotations and flags that resemble the national Tricolour, according to the Delhi High Court.

A division bench of Chief Justice Satish Chandra Sharma and Justice Saurabh Banerjee was dealing with petitioner lawyer Ashwini Kumar Upadhyay’s PIL arguing that such political parties names might prejudicially affect the poll prospects of a candidate amounting to a corrupt practice under the Representation of the People Act (RPA), 1951. Such a step will help ensure free and fair elections, the petition said.

During the hearing Wednesday, the counsel for the Centre through the Ministry of Law submitted: "They prima-facie say that they want to examine it and seek two week's time for that."

"Learned counsels for the respondents pray for four weeks' time to file reply. List the matter thereafter," the court said.

The matter has been posted for hearing next on October 18.

“Review the political parties, registered with caste, religious, ethnic or linguistic connotations and ensure that they are not using a flag, similar to the national flag, and de-register them if they fail to change it within three months,” the petition reads.

Earlier, the court was apprised that in spite of the issuance of notice on the PIL in 2019, the Centre has not filed a reply.

The court had observed that the Centre was an “equally important party” to the PIL.

As the counsel for the Central government had prayed for a grant of four weeks’ time to seek instructions, the court had allowed it and also asked the counsel for the Election Commission of India (ECI) to seek further instructions in the matter. The ECI has already filed a response to the petition.

Referring to political parties such as Hindu Sena, All India Majlis-e-Ittehadul Muslimeen and Indian Union Muslim League, the petition says this violates the RPA and the Model Code of Conduct.

It says: “In addition, there are many political parties including the Indian National Congress, which use a flag similar to the national flag, which is also against the spirit of the RPA.”

According to ECI’s 2019 reply, in 2005 it took a policy decision not to register any political party having a name with religious connotations and has since registered no such party.

It added that any such party registered before 2005 will not lose its registration for having a name with a religious connotation.

With inputs from IANS

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