1 May 2023 6:33 AM GMT
The Supreme Court of India on Monday allowed the withdrawal of a petition seeking the ban of political parties which use names and symbols with religious connotations."The appearing counsel seeks permission to withdraw the present petition with the liberty to approach the high court. Writ petition stands dismissed as withdrawn, with the above liberty. We have not expressed anything on merits...
The Supreme Court of India on Monday allowed the withdrawal of a petition seeking the ban of political parties which use names and symbols with religious connotations.
"The appearing counsel seeks permission to withdraw the present petition with the liberty to approach the high court. Writ petition stands dismissed as withdrawn, with the above liberty. We have not expressed anything on merits in favour of any party."
A bench of Justices MR Shah and Ahsanadduin Amanullah was hearing a writ petition filed by Syed Waseem Rizvi, the former chairman of Uttar Pradesh Shia Central Board of Waqfs. After recently renouncing Islam and converting to Hinduism, Rizvi has taken a new name, i.e., Jitendra Narayan Singh Tyagi. The plea sought not only a ban of political parties which use names and symbols with religious connotations, but also the strict enforcement of certain provisions of the Representation of People's Act, 1951 which prohibits luring of voters and promoting feelings of enmity or hatred between different classes of citizens on the ground of religion.
Today, before the counsel for the petitioner was allowed to withdraw the petition, senior advocate and former attorney-general KK Venugopal, appearing for All India Majlis-E-Ittehadul Muslimeen (AIMIM), informed that a copy of a similar petition filed before the Delhi High Court has been placed before the apex court bench. On that very ground, Venugopal argued, the petition must be dismissed.
To this, Justice Shah responded, "The petitioner is saying that he will withdraw the petition."
In September last year, a top court bench issued notice in this matter and asked the Election Commission of India to file its response. The commission, in its counter-affidavit, told the Supreme Court that there was no express statutory provision under the Representation of Peoples Act, 1951 which barred the registration of political parties with names having religious connotations.
During a previous hearing, Senior Advocate Gaurav Bhatia, appearing for the petitioner, had submitted that two parties which are recognised state parties have the word 'Muslim' in their name. He pointed out that some political parties had a crescent moon and stars on their official flags. He said that the petition listed several other parties which have religious names.The petitioner had impleaded Indian Union Muslim League (IUML) and All India Majlis-E-Ittehadul Muslimeen (AIMIM).
However, on another day, senior advocate Dushyant Dave, appearing for the IUML, argued that the petitioner was selectively impleading certain parties. He told the bench, "The petitioner is being selective here. Why is the petitioner targeting only the IUML when the Supreme Court wanted the names of 'parties' that he wanted to implead? What about Shiv Sena, Shiromani Akali Dal?"
On yet another day, the Indian Union Muslim League told the bench that the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party should also be added as a respondent in the case, as its symbol lotus was a 'religious symbol.
Venugopal, appearing for AIMIM, pointed out that a petition seeking the same reliefs is pending before the High Court. He also alleged that the petitioner was adopting a 'selective approach',.
While hearing the matter in January, the Supreme Court had asked the petitioner to be not "selective" and reminded him that he must be "fair to everyone" and "secular" and should not give room for an allegation that only a particular community was targeted.
Case Title: Syed Waseem Rizvi vs. Election Commission of India and Anr. – W. P. (C) No. 908/2021