Delhi High Court seeks Centre’s stand on plea on names of parties with religious connotations

A view of the Delhi High Court in New Delhi. file | Photo Credit: Sushil Kumar Verma

The Delhi High Court on Wednesday gave the central government four weeks to explain its stand on a plea seeking de-registration of political parties with flags having “caste, religious, ethnic or linguistic” meaning and resemblance to the national flag.

A division bench of Chief Justice Satish Chandra Sharma and Justice Subramaniam Prasad was told that despite issuing notice on the petition in 2019, the Center is yet to file a reply.

The court also asked the counsel for the Election Commission of India, who has already filed a reply to advocate Ashwini Kumar Upadhyay’s plea, to seek further instructions on the matter.

Mr. Upadhyay has argued in his plea that the use of names with religious connotations or symbols similar to the national flag or emblem may adversely affect the election prospects of a candidate and would amount to a corrupt practice under the Representation of the People Act (RPA of 1951). ).

The plea said, “Review the registered political parties with caste, religious, ethnic or linguistic connotations and ensure that they are not using a flag similar to the national flag and if they fail to change it within three months.” If they fail, cancel their registration.” He said such a step would help in ensuring free and fair elections.

The plea referred to political parties such as the Hindu Sena, the All India Majlis-e-Ittehadul Muslimeen and the Indian Union Muslim League as examples of names with religious connotations, saying it was “against the spirit” of the RPA and the Model Code. . of Conduct.

The Election Commission had said in 2005 that it had taken a policy decision not to register any political party with religious overtones and no such party has been registered since then. However, any such party registered before 2005 will not lose its registration, the poll panel said.