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New Delhi Correspondent
The Indian Supreme Court on Tuesday refused to consider opposition politician and Bahujan Samaj Party supremo Mayawati’s plea challenging the Election Commission’s 48-hour ban on her campaigning in elections and expressed satisfaction over the poll body’s action against leaders making controversial speeches.
A bench, headed by Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi, asked Mayawati’s lawyer to file a separate appeal against the EC’s order. Taking note of the EC action, the court said it seems the poll body has “woken up” and barred various politicians from poll campaigning for varying hours.
The bench also comprising Justice Sanjiv Khanna made it clear that no further order was required for now.
Mayawati alleged the EC order has been passed “under pressure” and it would be remembered as a “black day” in the poll body’s history. She has faced action for appealing to Muslims to not vote for the Congress to avoid their anti-BJP votes getting divided.
The Election Commission on Monday imposed a nationwide campaign ban on BJP leader and Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Adityanath for 72 hours and on federal minister Maneka Gandhi and Mayawati for 48 hours from Tuesday for their “provocative” communal remarks, which it said had the “propensity to polarise the elections”.
It is the first time that a Chief Minister and a federal minister of India have been barred from campaigning and a pan-India ban has been imposed on politicians while any restriction on a chief minister and a union minister is unprecedented.
A 72-hour campaign ban has also been imposed on Samajwadi Party’s Azam Khan for his alleged “khaki underwear” jibe against actor-politician Jaya Prada who is his rival BJP candidate in Rampur Lok Sabha seat in Uttar Pradesh.
The bench was hearing a PIL filed by an NRI Yoga teacher based in Sharjah in the United Arab Emirates (UAE), seeking a direction to the EC to take “strict action” against political parties if their spokespersons make remarks based on caste and religion in the media in the run up to general elections.
While Adityanath, Mayawati and Maneka were found guilty of violating the model code of conduct for polls, the EC said Azam Khan not only violated the poll code but also disregarded its November 2013 directive asking politicians to desist from “deeds or actions construed as being repugnant to the honour and dignity of women”.
The EC order to bar Adityanath and Mayawati came soon after the Supreme Court asked the poll watchdog about the action it has initiated against them.The apex court had on Monday expressed displeasure over the Election Commission not taking quick action against politicians for communal and hate speeches during the parliamentary poll campaigning and decided to examine the ambit of its power following submission that it was “toothless”.