BHOPAL: The Madhya Pradesh High Court has directed the district magistrates of Datia and Gwalior districts to ensure registration of FIR against Union Agriculture Minister Narendra Singh Tomar and state Congress president Kamal Nath for alleged breach of COVID-19 protocol at their election meetings earlier this month.
The HC also held that in a clash between the right to campaigning and the right to health and life, it’s obvious that the right to health and life takes precedence. The right to health and life is comparatively more exalted, sacred, and precious right when compared with the right to canvassing and campaigning. Thus the right of a candidate to campaign has to yield to the right of health and life of the electorate.
Hearing a petition filed by advocate Ashish Pratap Singh alleging violation of COVID-19 protocols at political congregations in the Gwalior-Chambal region of the state, a division bench of the HC in Gwalior, comprising Justices Sheel Nagu and Rajeev Kumar Shrivastava passed the interim order on Tuesday.
“As per the assurance given by the state’s Advocate General Purshendra Kaurav, the district magistrates of Gwalior and Datia are directed to ensure registration of FIR against Narendra Singh Tomar and Kamal Nath for alleged commission of cognizabe offence of breach of COVID-19 protocol as informed by the petitioner and report compliance on the next hearing,” the HC’s division bench said in its order on Tuesday.
Earlier, on October 12, the HC had directed district magistrates of Gwalior and Datia districts to register cognizable offence not only against the defaulting common man who was part of the political congregations in Gwalior and Bhander (Datia) on October 5 but in particular against the political/state governmental functionaries in whose name or on whose behalf and in whose presence such congregations were held.
On Tuesday, during the hearing of the petition, the state’s Advocate General Purshendra Kaurav submitted before the court that in compliance with the court’s October 12 interim order, five FIRs were registered in the two districts against those who sought permission for holding the two congregations as well as the candidates of the two political parties.
However, the petitioner’s counsel pointed out before the court that no FIRs were registered against Union agriculture minister and BJP leader Narendra Singh Tomar and state Congress president Kamal Nath, despite the two leaders being the prime speakers at both the October 5 political congregations in Gwalior and Datia districts respectively.
The Advocate General subsequently submitted before the HC that FIRs under Section 154 of CrPc will be registered against both the senior politicians.
The HC bench also mentioned in its interim order on Tuesday that district magistrates of all nine districts falling within the territorial jurisdiction of HC’s Gwalior Bench are restrained from giving permission to any candidate/political party for holding physical congregations of any number of people unless the political party applying for such a congregation is able to satisfy the district magistrate concerned that conduction of virtual election campaign is not possible and the District Magistrate passes speaking order recording reasons of being satisfied with the inability of candidate/political parties to conduct virtual campaigning.