The Delhi High Court on Wednesday granted time to several opposition parties to respond to a petition to restrain them from using the acronym INDIA (Indian National Developmental Inclusive Alliance).
A bench headed by Acting Chief Justice Manmohan also granted time to the Centre to file its reply to the public interest litigation which alleged that by using INDIA acronym, the parties were taking “undue advantage in the name of our country”.
“We need a week-ten days more time to put in our reply,” Additional Solicitor General Chetan Sharma submitted on behalf of the central government.
Senior advocate Abhishek Manu Singhvi, who represented nine political parties including Congress, Trinamool Congress, DMK and others, said there were “preliminary objections” against the petition and the Supreme Court has already dealt with the issue.
On the last hearing, he had said the petition was not maintainable.
The bench, also comprising Justice Mini Pushkarna, listed the matter for hearing on January 4.
Petitioner Girish Bharadwaj had approached the high court earlier and sought interim order staying the use of acronym INDIA by 26 political parties and to also prohibit the use of the national flag with the acronym INDIA by the respondent political alliance.
The political parties which have been arrayed as respondents are Congress, Trinamool Congress, DMK, Aam Aadmi Party, Janata Dal (United), Rashtriya Janata Dal, Jharkhand Mukti Morcha, Nationalist Congress Party (Sharad Pawar), Shiv Sena (UBT), Samajwadi Party, Rashtriya Lok Dal, Apna Dal (Kamerawadi).
Besides, the other political parties are Jammu and Kashmir National Conference, Peoples Democratic Party, Communist Party of India (Marxist), Communist Party of India, Marumalarchi Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam, Konganadu Makkal Desia Katchi (KMDK), Viduthalai Chiruthaigal Katchi and Indian Union Muslim League.
Revolutionary Socialist Party, Communist Party of India (Marxist-Leninist) Liberation, All India Forward Bloc, Kerala Congress (Joseph), Kerala Congress (Mani) and Manithaneya Makkal Katchi (MMK) have also been arrayed as respondent parties.
The petition, through advocate Vaibhav Singh, stated that these parties have said that they will contest the 2024 Lok Sabha elections together against the BJP-led National Democratic Alliance (NDA) and referred to the statements of West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee and Congress leader Rahul Gandhi.
“… By dragging the name of our nation, Mr. (Rahul) Gandhi very cunningly presented the name of their alliance as the name of our nation and tried to show that the NDA/ BJP and Hon’ble Prime Minister Mr. (Narendra) Modi is in conflict with our own nation, that is, INDIA and this attempt of Mr. Gandhi had created confusion in the mind of common people that the upcoming general election of 2024 will be a fight between political parties or between alliance and our country.
“That by creating this confusion the respondent political parties want to take undue advantage in the name of our country,” the plea has said.
It has said that the petitioner gave a representation to the ECI but no action was taken after which he approached the high court with the petition.
In response to the petition, Election Commission, represented by lawyer Sidhant Kumar, has told the high court that it has no legal authority to regulate “political alliances” as they are not recognised as “regulated entities” under the Representation of the People Act or the Constitution.
The court had issued notice on the plea in August.