The Delhi High Court sent notice to the Delhi Government alleging their Ganesh Chaturthi celebration
- Malaika Kadam
On September 20, 2021, a notice has been issued by the Delhi High Court on the matter of the Ganesh Chaturthi Celebrations of the Delhi Government being allegedly in violation of the constitutional mandate.
In the PIL filed by Advocate Manohar Lal Sharma, appearing as party-in-person, the Centre, the Delhi Government and the Election Commission of India have been asked to respond by the Division Bench led by Chief Justice D.N. Patel and Justice Amit Bansal. The Bench was informed about the celebrations organized by the ruling party and extensive promotion and advertisements of the same on various television channels, by the pleader. By stating, “State is not allowed to organize any kind of religious activities”, Adv. Sharma alleged that the act of the State Government was against secularism, the basic structure of the Constitution.
However, the petition was termed as “politically motivated” by Senior Counsel Rahul Mehra, who is representing the Delhi Government, and he urged the Bench to dismiss the petition with cost on the ground that Delhi CM and his Cabinet of Ministers are prosecuted in the array of parties. In addition, the Senior Counsel argued that the event was organized with public health kept in mind, with a glorious goal of managing law enforcement during the pandemic.
The Bench questioned whether a constitutional provision prohibits organization of such events by the State, to which the pleader answered that the term “Secular”, used in the Preamble to our Constitution forbids the State from doing the same. Article 25 and S.R. Bommai decision was also brought to the attention of the Bench by Advocate Sharma.
Advocate Sidhant Kumar, representing ECI, contended that the ECI has no power to derecognize or deregister a political party. He further added that once a party is recognized and registered under Section 29A of Representation of People’s Act, deregistration of such party can be done only on very restricted grounds.
The Centre, The Delhi Government and the ECI have been granted time by the Bench to file their counter-affidavit, and posted it for November 18, 2021.
The pleader has prayed the pronouncement of the Ganesh Chaturthi celebration as unconstitutional, the derecognition of the Aam Aadmi Party, initiation of criminal action against the Delhi CM and his Cabinet of Ministers for consuming public funds for their personal vested political interests, and also prayed for the recovery of the complete amount exhausted from the treasury for the same. Furthermore, in the plea Sharma seeks the declaration of such religious events and the expenditure on them from the State treasury as unconstitutional and arbitrary.
It must be noted that the petition filed by Sharma, which alleged that the State Government has advertised the Ganesh Puja Celebration on various television channels, was not taken into consideration by the Bench earlier. Nevertheless, Sharma was allowed to file a fresh petition with appropriate agreements, allegations and annexures.
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