Ahead of the by-elections on 28 seats, the Gwalior bench of Madhya Pradesh High Court has directed the Collector and Superintendent of Police (SP) of Datia and Gwalior to register an FIR against former chief minister and state Congress president Kamal Nath, Union Minister Narendra Singh Tomar of the ruling BJP and five other political leaders for violating COVID-19 guidelines stipulated by the court.
A division bench of Justices Sheel Nagu and Rajeev Kumar Shrivastava, while hearing a petition filed by advocate-petitioner Ashish Pratap Singh on Monday, has ordered an FIR to be registered against “defaulting functionaries of the Govt./State/Political parties” on whose “behalf, behest and for whom and in whose presence congregations took place violating the Covid-19 protocol’.
The petitioner reported that large congregations of 300 to 500 people were organised by former MLA Munnalal Goel on October 3 and former MLA Pradhyuman Singh Tomar on October 4. This was followed by congregations held on behalf of union minister and MP from Morena Narendra Singh Tomar, Congress’ Kamal Nath for party candidate Phool Singh Bariya of Datiya and for Ramniwas Rawat and Sunil Sharma.
After the court’s order an FIR has been registered against Kamal Nath and eight others at Bhander police station on Tuesday on the complaint of Sub-Divisional Magistrate, Arvind Mahor.
The order was passed in continuation of an interim order of October 3 which restricted political gathering upto 100 people and mandated adequate social distancing. The court had appointed a three member Amicus Curiae to monitor political activities while allowing anyone to register an FIR in case COVID-19 protocol was violated. Singh, through his petition, had sought a ban on political activity in the state citing COVID-19.
Following this, many instances were brought to the court’s notice by the Amicus Curie through two reports which highlighted the violation of stipulated rules. In its third report, the Amicus Curie submitted photographs to the court showing that various political gatherings and meetings were held for the upcoming by-elections even as there is a rise in the COVID-19 cases in the region.
The court has ordered that a copy of the three joint reports of Amicus Curiae be sent to the district magistrate of Datia, Gwalior and seven other districts falling under the court’s jurisdiction for further actions. The nine districts have elections on 16 seats that fall under the Chambal Gwalior region and had fallen vacant after 22 MLAs had switched sides and joined BJP necessitating the by-elections.