The Gwalior bench of the Madhya Pradesh High Court has allowed registration of an FIR against a political party by anyone if more than 100 people assemble in any election rally.
The court’s directions come ahead of the Assembly by-polls which are scheduled to be held in the State.
It was hearing a Public Interest Litigation (PIL), filed by advocate Ashish Pratap Singh, which sought a ban on political events in the State in the wake of Covid-19 pandemic. The Gwalior Bench of the Madhya Pradesh HC had earlier issued notices to the Chief Secretary, District Collector and Superintendent of Police and asked them to submit replies by September 28.
The HC had also appointed three lawyers as Nyaya Mitras to keep a watch on the political activities in the state and in case of any breach of protocol, they would have to report the matter to the court through its registrar.
Advocate Ashish Pratap Singh, who had filed the PIL on September 11, said the political parties were holding rallies, which attracted huge crowds, increasing the risk of disease spread.
On September 29 the court had been presented with a joint report of the Amicus Curiae was on record citing further instances of breach of COVID-19 protocol because of various congregations that have taken place of political and social nature where a large number of political functionaries were either present or had presided over the said congregations comprising of numbers of people far exceeding the maximum limit prescribed.
The court had then decided to hold an in-camera hearing of DM, SPs, of Morena, Bhind, Gwalior, Datia and Shivpuri, where by-elections are to be held shortly.
While stating that the politicians, leaders, and functionaries of thegovernment and the State should set an example for the public by abiding by the COVID-19 guidelines, and ensure they do not indulge in any activity, which can lead to the collection of a large number of people.
“The DMs of the nine districts falling within the territorial jurisdiction of this Bench i.e. Gwalior, Guna, Morena, Bhind, Vidisha, Ashok Nagar, Datia, Shivpuri and Sheopur are directed by writ of mandamus to register offences by invoking penal provisions of Disaster Management Act and the Indian Penal Code (IPC) not only against the defaulting members of the congregation but also against political/governmental/State or social functionaries in whose name or on whose behest and behalf the said congregation takes place, failing which the DMs of the concerned nine districts shall be liable for contempt of this Court and shall also be exposed to the rigours of penal provisions of relevant laws,” a portion of the interim order read.
The petitioner, Advocate Ashish said, “Any person who feels responsible and sees a crowd of over 100 assembling can click a photograph and register a case.”
He further added that the court has accepted that the administration is facing difficulties in stopping such rallies.
The court said that either the Amicus Curiae or any person who feels responsible can click a photo of such congregations/events and place it before the appropriate bench for adjudication, through the Principal Registrar.
The matter has further been listed for hearing on October 15.