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Delhi HC rejects plea for jailed politicians to be allowed virtual campaigning, says Parliament’s domain [Read Judgment]

By Shreya Agarwal      01 May, 2024 05:37 PM      0 Comments

NEW DELHI: The Delhi High Court has dismissed a plea by a student seeking to allow arrested political leaders to campaign for the ongoing Lok Sabha elections virtually, terming the same as 'highly adventurous'. 

Acting Chief Justice Manmohan in fact went on to express his dismay at the nature of the plea, stating that he wanted to dismiss it with costs.

On being informed by the counsel, one Advocate Md. Imran Ahmad, that the petitioner is a student,  he further said, "I don't know what he (petitioner) is studying. What is he doing? I am really at my wits' end. I want to educate you more but that is not our domain. Let your teachers do it. I don't think you're attending your classes. Some people have a very aggravated notion about us...we are bound by law."

The division bench comprising the Acting Chief Justice and Justice Manmeet Pritam Singh Arora ultimately refused to interfere in the matter, highlighting that it concerns a policy decision falling within the Parliament’s ambit.

"You are being adventurous. This is highly adventurous. The petition is against the fundamental principles of law. You are asking us to act contrary to the law. We don't legislate, we don't make policy decisions,” it said.

The Court also told the counsel to teach the student about separation of powers.

"Okay, we will not impose costs, but you (lawyer) must teach him (petitioner) about separation of powers," the bench said. 

It did, however, express its apprehension with the proposition, stating, "We can't allow someone who is in custody to run a campaign. Otherwise, all rapists, murderers will start floating political parties just prior to the elections.”

The court was hearing a petition by Amarjeet Gupta, a law student, who was reportedly aggrieved by the timing of the arrest of politicians, particularly Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal, after the announcement of the model code of conduct by the ECI.

The bench also expressed its concern on being dragged into politics, stating, "We want to stay away from politics and today more and more people are involving us into politics. You are pulling us more into politics. One person comes and says take him (with reference to Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal) out of jail, one person says keep him in jail. The accused is availing legal remedies. (The) courts are applying judicial mind and passing orders." 

The bench also said that there is propaganda and publicity is involved in these kinds of petitions.

On the issue of Kejriwal’s arrest with the Model Code of Conduct (MCC) being in force, the Court said, “If a candidate is contesting in election and he commits murder, because of MCC being in force, does it mean he won't be arrested?”

The petitioner claimed to be aggrieved by the fact that ‘electors are deprived of their fundamental right to get information under Article 19(1)(a) of the Constitution from the politicians in custody by way of being spectators and listeners of election campaigning.’

"The leaders of political parties are also deprived of their constitutionally guaranteed fundamental and legal right to campaign during the elections," it said.

[Read Judgment]

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