10 May 2023 4:37 AM GMT
The Karnataka High Court on Tuesday stayed the public notice issued by the Assistant Commissioner (Election), Bruhat Bengaluru Mahanagara Palike by which it had restrained any hotels from distributing free food or articles at concession rates to those who cast their votes in the Elections to be held on Wednesday. A single judge bench of Justice T G Shivashankare Gowda stayed the notice dated...
The Karnataka High Court on Tuesday stayed the public notice issued by the Assistant Commissioner (Election), Bruhat Bengaluru Mahanagara Palike by which it had restrained any hotels from distributing free food or articles at concession rates to those who cast their votes in the Elections to be held on Wednesday.
A single judge bench of Justice T G Shivashankare Gowda stayed the notice dated May 9. It said
"The contention of the learned counsel for the respondents that the voters will be induced by the act of the hoteliers has no substance as the distribution of food free or at concessions rates is for those who voluntarily goes to the hotel after casting vote."
It added "It is not a compulsion for anybody either to go for it or not. It is of the individual will of a person and therefore there is no question of inducement for anybody."
However, the Court has prohibited such hotels not to receive any consideration from any political parties. “The Hoteliers shall not receive any contribution from the any politican/leader or political party associated with the Assembly election for such services. If they claim any such benefit either through press or media they are liable to be prosecuted for violation of model code of conduct," it said.
The district election officer challenged the order in appeal before a division bench, which heard the matter late evening on Tuesday and refused to interfere with the single judge bench order.
The Bruhat Bangalore Hotels Association had approached the court after the permission granted on May 7 to one Hotel was withdrawn by the May 9 notice and warning was issued of taking action against hotels if found distributing free food to voters for violation of model code of conduct.
The petitioners contended that the association is not associated with any political party or to any constituency, nor interest in any election candidate. Only to encourage the people to come out and cast their vote, and that to only to those who have casted vote, food will be served free of cost or at concessional rates at hotels in Bangalore.
The respondents contended that the action of the hoteliers is a violation of the model code of conduct. The conduct of the hoteliers is only a marketing strategy taking advantage of the election for free publicity, which cannot be supported by the court.
The bench noted that conditional permission was granted to Nisarga Grand Hotel. Thereafter for the unknown reasons on May 9 a public notice was issued withdrawing the said permission and warning the hotels.
It said "The copy of the model code of conduct is made available and on perusal of it nowhere indicates that distribution of free food to those who have already cast vote amounts to violation of model code of conduct or providing food for those who cast votes does amount to inducement."
Thus it held “The Conduct of BBMP granting permission and withdrawing the same is not proper. Hence the publication at Annexure F is hereby stayed.”
It added “As regarding Law and order the respondents are at liberty to take action against the concerned hoteliers in case of such violation. None of the Hotel Association or Hoteliers may proclaim or claim any credit for themselves or on behalf of the political parties.”
Case Title: Bruhat Bangalore Hotels Association And Chief Commissioner and District Election Officer &Others.
Case No: WP 10089/2023.
Click Here To Read/Download Single Bench Order
Click Here To Read/Download Division Bench Order