The Election Commission of India has approached the Supreme Court against the Madhya Pradesh High Court's order barring physical political rallies in the state where bypolls will be held next month. The ECI has submitted that the High Court's order interferes with poll process, adding that conducting elections is its exclusive domain. The poll body said that the order will derail the poll process.
The curbs will impact the level playing field for candidates, the Election Commission said.
Meanwhile, the Madhya Pradesh government has also decided to approach the Supreme Court against the HC's order. Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan in a video message apologised to the people of Ashok Nagar's Shadora and Bhander where he was expected to attend two political rallies. The rallies were cancelled at least moment following the order of the court.
"We respect the High Court and its decision. But regarding this decision, we will go to the Supreme Court, because it is like having two laws in a single land," Chouhan told news agency ANI.
"In some parts of Madhya Pradesh, physical political rallies are allowed. It is not allowed in another part. Political rallies are being held in Bihar, but it is not allowed in a part of Madhya Pradesh. So we will seek justice from the Supreme Court," he added.
Earlier on Wednesday, the Gwalior bench of Madhya Pradesh High Court directed the magistrates of Datia and Gwalior districts to register an FIR against Union minister Narendra Singh Tomar and Congress leader Kamal Nath for allegedly violating COVID-19 protocol during electioneering.
The court order said that the petitioner, advocate AP Singh, pointed out that the congregation was held on October 5, 2020 at Modi House, opposite to Landmark Hotel in Gwalior, where Union Minister Narendra Singh Tomar spoke, but no FIR was filed against Tomar. The court order said that the petitioner also pointed out that another gathering took place at Bhander in Datia district on the same day in the presence of former chief minister Kamal Nath, even as no FIR was lodged against him.
Besides directing to register FIR against Tomar and Nath, the court issued interim directions to the district magistrates of all nine districts falling within the court's territorial jurisdiction, restraining them from giving permission to any candidate/political party for holding physical congregations of any number of people unless the political party applying for it satisfies the DM concerned holding a virtual election campaign was not possible.
Bypolls to 28 Assembly seats in Madhya Pradesh are scheduled to be held on November 3.