New Delhi: The Delhi High Court, today issued notices to the Centre, the Election Commission of India (ECI) and an alliance of 26 political parties in connection with a Public Interest Litigation (PIL) challenging the parties’ use of the acronym I.N.D.I.A (Indian National Developmental Inclusive Alliance).
A Division Bench comprising Chief Justice Satish Chandra Sharma and Justice Amit Mahajan directed the Centre, represented by the Ministry of Home Affairs and Ministry of Information and Broadcasting, as well as the ECI and 26 Opposition parties, including the Congress, All India Trinamool Congress, DravidaMunnetra Kazhagam and AAP among others to respond to the PIL.
Girish Bharadwaj, counsel for the petitioner, stated that the PIL pertains to the recent formation of an “alliance using the name I.N.D.I.A” by the respondent political parties.
The Bench acknowledged the need for a hearing and Additional Solicitor General Chetan Sharma accepted notice on behalf of the two Central Ministries, emphasising the significance of the ECI’s response. The case is scheduled for the next hearing on October 31.
The petitioner seeks an injunction restraining the respondent political parties from using the acronym I.N.D.I.A and requests the Centre and ECI to take appropriate action against these parties for its usage. The plea claims that Bharadwaj is aggrieved by the ECI’s inaction against the 26 political parties.
According to the plea, on June 23, leaders and members of 16 out of the 26 political parties gathered in Bihar’s Patna to devise a strategy for the upcoming 2024 general elections and formed an alliance without giving it a name. Subsequently, the parties met again in Bengaluru to “choose the name of the alliance and its convenor.”
In Bengaluru, after a closed-room meeting on July 18, a joint press conference was held by the leaders of all respondent political parties, during which Congress President Mallikarjun Kharge announced the name of the alliance as I.N.D.I.A or Indian National Developmental Inclusive Alliance.
The plea notes that during the press conference, West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee asked the NDA and BJP if they could challenge ‘I.N.D.I.A’ and stated that ‘I.N.D.I.A’ would emerge victorious while BJP would lose. Furthermore, the plea mentions that in the same meeting, Congress leader Rahul Gandhi said, “This battle is between NDA and India, between Narendra Modi and India.”
The plea argues that by “dragging” the name of the country, Gandhi “cunningly presented the name of their alliance and tried to show that the NDA/BJP and Prime Minister Narendra Modi are in conflict with our nation, i.e., INDIA.”
This attempt by Gandhi has allegedly “created confusion in the minds of common people that the upcoming general election of 2024 will be a fight between political parties or between the alliance and our country.”
The plea highlights that the petitioner had sent a representation to the ECI on July 19, requesting necessary action against the newly formed alliance, but the ECI has not taken any action so far.
The plea expresses concerns that the respondent parties’ attempt to use the name of the country as an acronym for their alliance may incite “political hatred” and potentially lead to “political violence.”