Degenerating debates harm voters’ interests: Supreme Court

The SC says ads by the BJP against AITMC are ‘prima facie disparaging’; the BJP says they are based on facts; SC tells the BJP ‘your rival is not your enemy’

Updated - May 27, 2024 08:45 pm IST

Published - May 27, 2024 12:58 pm IST - NEW DELHI

A view of the Supreme Court of India.

A view of the Supreme Court of India. | Photo Credit: SUSHIL KUMAR VERMA

The Supreme Court told the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) on May 27 that degenerating debates during Lok Sabha elections would only harm voters’ interests while finding advertisements published by the party against All India Trinamool Congress (AITMC) “prima facie disparaging”.

A Vacation Bench of Justices J.K. Maheshwari and K.V. Viswanathan refused to interfere with an injunction issued by the Calcutta High Court against the “derogatory” and “slanderous” advertisements.

“Prima facie, these advertisements are disparaging… You (BJP) can promote yourself, you can say you are the best… We (Supreme Court) cannot lend our hand to cause acrimony… further acrimony,” Justice Viswanathan told BJP counsel, senior advocate P.S. Patwalia.

Justice Viswanathan said such advertisements “would not be in the interest of the voters. It will degenerate the debate”.

Justice Maheshwari referred to specific page numbers in the court’s records, asking Mr. Patwalia to consider the advertisements contained in them.

“Why are you precipitating things by coming here?” Justice Maheshwari asked.

Justice Viswanathan told the BJP counsel that his client should keep in mind that “your rival is not your enemy”.

Mr. Patwalia submitted that the advertisements were based on facts.

The Single Judge of the High Court had passed the interim injunction order ex parte, without giving it a chance to be heard.

The AITMC had already approached the Election Commission (EC) against the advertisements. The EC had issued a show cause notice to the BJP on May 18. The party was supposed to file its response on May 21.

Mr. Patwalia said the AITMC had, while the EC proceedings were on, simultaneously approached the High Court on May 20.

The High Court had proceeded to issue the injunction order, making it applicable till June 4.

“We want to file a reply by tomorrow to the EC notice. We will appear the day after tomorrow. Let the EC pass an appropriate order. We were not even heard by either the EC or the High Court,” the senior counsel argued.

Justice Maheshwari asked whether the EC had done something till now or even after the injunction order was passed by the High Court. The elections were going on.

“It is a question of independence of the Election Commission,” Justice Maheshwari noted.

The BJP finally chose to withdraw the petition after the court gave it liberty to approach the High Court again for any relief in accordance with law.

The AITMC was represented by senior advocates A.M. Singhvi and Amit Anand Tiwari.

0 / 0
Sign in to unlock member-only benefits!
  • Access 10 free stories every month
  • Save stories to read later
  • Access to comment on every story
  • Sign-up/manage your newsletter subscriptions with a single click
  • Get notified by email for early access to discounts & offers on our products
Sign in


Comments have to be in English, and in full sentences. They cannot be abusive or personal. Please abide by our community guidelines for posting your comments.

We have migrated to a new commenting platform. If you are already a registered user of The Hindu and logged in, you may continue to engage with our articles. If you do not have an account please register and login to post comments. Users can access their older comments by logging into their accounts on Vuukle.