30 Jan 2023 2:14 PM GMT
The Indian Union Muslim League (IUML) has filed its counter affidavit in a plea seeking ban on political parties which use names and symbols with religious connotations. IUML has given a six point response to the petition and has prayed that the petition should be dismissed in limine.The six point response by IUML through its counter affidavit are as follows:1. Non Joinder of Necessary Parties...
The Indian Union Muslim League (IUML) has filed its counter affidavit in a plea seeking ban on political parties which use names and symbols with religious connotations. IUML has given a six point response to the petition and has prayed that the petition should be dismissed in limine.
The six point response by IUML through its counter affidavit are as follows:
1. Non Joinder of Necessary Parties in the Petition
2. A petition raising similar issues with similar prayer is pending adjudication before the High Court of Delhi
3. The petitioner has approached the top court with unclean hands
4. The Indian Union Muslim League is inherently secular and has a long history of preserving the communal harmony in various parts of the country
5. That the statutory scheme relied upon by the petitioners are not applicable
6. Election Commission of India does not have to power to bar registration or deregister any political party
Non-joinder of necessary parties
The affidavit filed by the Indian Union Muslim League submits that the writ petition ought to be dismissed in limine for non joinder of necessary parties’. It submits that, “while the Petitioner prays for a direction directing the Election Commission of India to cancel the symbol or name allotted to the political parties which in any way symbolise to any religion, the potentially affected political entities have not been arrayed as parties to the petition.” It must be noted that in the earlier hearing, the court had asked the petitioners to implead those political parties against which reliefs have been sought.
Pendency of petition before the Hon'ble High Court of Delhi raising similar issues
The affidavit further submits that, “another writ petition being W.P.(C)No. 5378 of 2019 titled "Ashwini Upadhyay V. Union of India and Another” raising the same subject matter is pending before the Hon'ble High Court of Delhi.” The affidavit submits that in the said petition a similar prayer has been made wherein the petitioner has sought to review political parties which are registered with religious names/connotations and de-register them in the event they fail to rename their party within 3 months.
Petitioner approaching this Hon'ble Court with unclean hands
IUML in its affidavit has further alleged that the petitioner has approached the top court with unclean hands as several cases relating to hate speech has been registered against him. It also states that the petitioner is a religious fanatic who thrives on fomenting enmity amongst citizens on religious grounds.
IUML states that the petitioner, in his affidavit, stated that “there is no civil, criminal or revenue litigation involving the Petitioner, which has or could have legal nexus, with the issue involved in this petition". The party contended that this claim by the petitioner is "patently false and misleading and calculated to deceive this Hon'ble Court".
It pointed out that the real name of Petitioner is Jitendra Narayan Tyagi aka Waseem Rizvi who was arrested in a case related to hate speeches made at the Dharm Sansad which was organised between the 17th and 19th December, 2021. "The Petitioner is a religious fanatic who thrives on fomenting enmity between individuals on the ground of religion and his hatred towards minorities in the country is a well documented fact. It is submitted that this Hon'ble Court ought to take judicial note of this fact, dismiss the present petition inasmuch as the Petitioner is not a bona fide public interest litigant", IUML stated.
History of IUML
Charting out the entire history of IUML, the affidavit states, “The interference of IUML for preserving communal harmony in various parts of the country is recorded in the history of Independent India. Therefore IUML is a political party which includes secularism in its constitution, practice in its actions and widen the principles of secularism in the society.”
“Therefore, it is the humble submission of the IUML' that whilst it does aim to protect the cultural and religious identity of Muslims; it is with harmony and unity with India's diverse demography and is inherently secular. The party has constantly strived to achieve these objectives,” the affidavit further adds.
It is highlighted that the IUML has been in existence for 75 years and has had members who are non-Muslims. The appeals made by IUML leaders averted communal riots in Kerala in 1992 during the post-Babri demolition period.
"The principles and idea of secularism, democracy, justice, liberty, equality and fraternity enshrined in the Constitution of India is intended to practice in the life in this Country and not to display it as a sham name board. Many political parties which are having such fabulous names are now practicing against the principles and ideas enshrined in the Constitution and therefore appraisal is necessarily to be carried out on the basis of the activities of a political party", it says.
Countering the reliance of the petitioners on Sections 123(3) , Section 123(3A), and Section 29A of the Representation of Peoples Act, the affidavit states that these provisions “do not contain any prohibition against a political party using a religious symbol, or having a religious connotation ; and any attempt at reading into the provision the said inhibition would have the effect of doing violence to the object of the provision.”
Commission is not vested with the requisite power to review the registration of the parties.
The affidavit filed by the party's General Secretary PK Kunhalikutty further states, “The Respondent Commission has been given no power under Section 29A to deregister a party, more specifically on the ground that the party has a religious connotation.
It may be noted that the Election Commission had submitted before the top court during the last hearing that it had ‘No Power To Bar Registration Of Political Parties With Religious Names’. The top court had issued notice in the plea on 5th September 2022.
Case Title: Syed Waseem Rizvi vs. Election Commission of India and Anr. – W. P. (C) No. 908/2021
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