The Delhi High Court on Friday declined to entertain a plea by BJP leader Jatin Mohanty seeking action against the Biju Janta Dal government in Odisha for using its party symbol of conch’ while promoting the government’s welfare schemes in advertisements.
The court questioned the petitioner for approaching it instead of going to the Orissa High Court when the advertisements were being issued there.
“Why are you here? Go to Odisha and raise it before the appropriate court,” a bench of Acting Chief Justice Manmohan and Justice Manmeet PS Arora said.
It said it is not unique to one state and it is the story of every state now.
As the bench was not inclined to entertain the plea, Mohanty’s counsel sought liberty to withdraw the petition and file it before a court having jurisdiction over the issue which was allowed.
The petitioner alleged there was arbitrary use and misuse of public funds by the BJD which was indulging in advertising various state government schemes, using the ‘Conch’ symbol in Odisha newspapers, TV channels, buses and social media platforms resulting in misuse of crores of public money.
It claimed that as per information received by one RTI activist, the party has spent Rs 378 crore on advertisements in the last five years
As the counsel for Mohanty, BJP general secretary for Odisha, urged the high court to direct the Election Commission of India to decide its November 10, 2023 representation given to it against the State of Odisha and BJD, the bench said the advertisements were given in Odisha and he shall approach the court there.
“You go there, they will decide. Everyone is coming here, we are not here to decide everything. Go to Orissa High Court, don’t come to Delhi High Court. Forum convenience is Orissa,” the bench said.
In the representation given to ECI, the petitioner has sought to direct the BJD and the state government to comply with the relevant directives of the Supreme Court and the procedure for election symbols (reservation and allotment) order and the model code of conduct for the guidance of political parties and candidates.
The plea sought court’s direction to the ECI to take appropriate legal action against BJD for allegedly violating the election symbols (reservation and allotment) order, 1968 and model code of conduct for the guidance of political parties and candidates.
It also sought to restrain the state government from making any further advertisement of welfare schemes using the party symbol.
The plea urged the court to direct the ECI for recovery of alleged misuse of public money in the name of advertisement.