The Gwalior bench of the Madhya Pradesh High Court has directed the district magistrates of Datia and Gwalior 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.
The division bench of Justice Sheel Nagu and Justice Rajeev Kumar Shrivastava passed this interim order after 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.
Counsel for the petitioner submitted that no FIRs were registered against Union agriculture minister and BJP leader Narendra Singh Tomar and state Congress president Kamal Nath as they were present on 05.10.2020 at Modi House, where they addressed the political gathering.
The State Advocate-General Pushpendra Kaurav submitted that, five FIRs had been registered in compliance with the court’s interim order of October 12 and the FIRs under Section 154 of Criminal Procedure Code will be registered against both the senior politicians. The Court also observed that Election campaign is an inseparable part of the process of election which starts from declaration of election programme and ends up on the declaration of result.
“The circumstances in the present case are extremely unfortunate where the political leaders, who are supposed to lead by example of conduct, behaviour and character have done little to protect the health and life of the common man by drawing him out of his home to be part of the congregation called out by the political parties for gaining popularity and votes for the election”, quoted by the High Court.
The High Court also said that , “The holding of physical congregation even if permitted by District Magistrate and Election Commission of India, can take place only after the political party/candidate intending to hold a congregation deposits money with the District Magistrate which is sufficient to purchase double the number of masks and sanitizers required for protecting and sanitizing the number of persons expected in the congregation and also when candidate files an undertaking on affidavit that he shall be personally liable to distribute masks and sanitizers to all the members of the congregation before the meeting/congregation starts”.
The order reads that, “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 cognizable offence of breach of COVID-19 protocol as informed by the petitioner and report compliance on the next hearing”.