The Bombay high court ruled that parties can hold rallies even if they aren’t contesting polls.
Mumbai: The Bombay high court, while dismissing a petition opposing Maharashtra Navnirman Sena (MNS) chief Raj Thackeray’s rallies prior to the general election, has ruled that political parties can hold rallies even if they aren’t contesting polls.
The petition, filed by a Pune resident, sought that the high court issue directions to the Election Commission of India (ECI) to call for the expenses borne by all such parties — including the MNS — for holding their gatherings, rallies and campaigning, and to ensure that all such parties abide by the model code of conduct.
The petition stated that the court should direct the ECI not to allow such parties to hold rallies and gatherings in the run-up to Lok Sabha elections, and in case permissions have already been granted to such parties, the ECI should be directed to revoke them.
Chief Justice Pradeep Nandrajog and Justice Bharti Dangre, while rejecting the plea, said, “The Representation of the People Act permits political parties to hold rallies to educate voters concerning the manifesto of political parties.”
The bench also noted that any individual or an association of individuals could hold rallies to educate voters irrespective of whether or not an individual or association of individuals are candidates in the ensuing election.
Finally, the court said in its order that permission from local police stations have to be taken before conducting rallies and the ECI, which can only enforce the model code of conduct, doesn’t grant parties permission to hold rallies.
It is interesting to note that although Mr Thackeray did not contest the election, he held rallies asking people to vote against Prime Minister and the BJP.