EC Lacks the Power to Ban Caste Rallies in Non-Poll Period: Allahabad HC

EC Lacks the Power to Ban Caste Rallies in Non-Poll Period: Allahabad HC

The EC has clarified that it has no jurisdiction over the matter, as the right to freedom of speech and expression is guaranteed by the Constitution of India. Therefore, political parties are allowed to propagate their respective ideologies.

It has also been noted that the Supreme Court has examined the issue of caste-based political rallies in the past, and it has been held that such rallies cannot be banned.

The ECI responded to a petition filed by advocate Moti Lal Yadav in 2013. The Allahabad High Court issued a notice to the EC and interim directions to ban caste-based rallies. The EC filed its response on February 16.

The High Court issued a fresh notice to all parties seeking their counters, as no reply was received till November 2022. Petitioners listed respondents as the EC, BJP, INC, SP, BSP, Union and State governments, and the UP-Chief Election Officer. The matter concerned electoral malpractices in the state of Uttar Pradesh.

The EC filed its reply to the notice in February this year, submitting that it has no jurisdiction to restrict meetings and rallies based on caste lines or to ban parties from contesting future elections.

“Therefore, the prayer for taking action to the Election Commission against parties and persons during non-election period is not maintainable,” the ECI said.

The EC stated that it could only review the registration of a political party under three exceptions, as per the Supreme Court’s 2002 judgment in Indian National Congress Vs. Institute of Social Welfare and Others.

In cases of fraud or forgery, a political party’s registration may be challenged. Similarly, if a party changes its nomenclature or fails to uphold the Constitution of India, it may be debarred from registration.

No inquiry is needed where a registered political party has been declared unlawful by the Union government under laws such as the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act.

The ECI submitted that its Model Code of Conduct prescribes strict rules prohibiting electioneering along communal lines or seeking votes based on caste, creed, or religion. However, these rules can only be enforced after an election is announced.


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