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Hate Speeches by Political Leaders: Would EC Take Action?

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(Dr EAS Sarma)

The public speeches delivered by the leaders of most political parties during election rallies for the ensuing Delhi elections are not only violation of the Model Code of Conduct and but they also attract the penal provisions under the Indian Penal Code (IPC). It is unfortunate that some of the political leaders involved in such statutory violations happened to be senior public functionaries of the governments at the Centre and in the States.
 
I feel reassured that the ECI has taken cognizance, though in a severely limited manner, of the divisive hate speeches  delivered by two BJP leaders vide No. 437/DL-LA/4/2020/N.S-1I dated 29th January, 2020. However, since the penalty imposed is not deterrent enough, there is no certainty that the two persons would not continue making similar public statements that cause irrevocable damage to the unity of the nation. 
 
The fact that some of the statements made by the two leaders referred above attract the criminal offences listed in Chapter VII of the IPC, namely, “Offences against public tranquility” (Sections 153, 153A, 153B, 155, 156) and the fact that the local police have not yet filed any cases against them, have encouraged not only those two persons but also the others across the political parties to make similar divisive statements to corner votes on a sectarian basis. ECI cannot afford to remain a passive spectator to this.
 
In this connection, I invite your attention to the news reports which refer to similar divisive statements made by the political parties and the senior political leaders during campaigning for the Delhi elections.
 

Some of the statements, purported to have been made by several political leaders during the Delhi election campaigning, call for stringent action from the ECI, not only in terms of violation of the Model Code of Conduct but also in terms of violation of Sections 153, 153A, 153B, 155, 156 of IPC. If the ECI fails to take stringent, deterrent action against those making such divisive statements, the Commission will indirectly encourage election campaigning based on perpetuating hate and division within the electorate. I am sure that the ECI would not allow such a situation to continue.

I appeal to the ECI to act promptly against those who have made divisive statements, however high and mighty they may be. By acting firmly in exercise of the authority vested in it by the relevant Articles of the Constitution and also directing Delhi police to file FIRs against the persons who have violated the relevant provisions of the IPC, ECI will be fulfilling its statutory responsibility and safeguarding the integrity of the electoral process. 

I hope that the Commission will act decisively and justify the trust that the public repose in it.

(Contents of the letter Dr EAS Sarma wrote to the Election Commission of India on 04-02-2020))