With Delhi polls reaching the final stage, India has witnessed a new low in political speech.
Twelve days of campaigning were packed with hate mongering and communal vitriol.
The development debate was overshadowed by divisive slogans.
Election saw sinister comments like “Desh ke gaddaron ko…”, there were references to “suicide bombers”...
... and the incumbent chief minister was accused of being a terrorist.
These offences violate not only the MCC but also the Representation of People Act (1951) and IPC, 1860.
The Model Code of Conduct for political parties and candidates was just not followed.
Hate speech is clear violation of the model code of conduct.
The SC has repeatedly held that the Model code of conduct must be enforced strictly.
The very first section of the MCC lays down the following:
“ No party or candidate shall include in any activity which may aggravate existing differences .....or create mutual hatred or cause tension between different castes and communities, religious or linguistic.”
“…Criticism of other parties or their workers based on unverified allegations or distortion shall be avoided.”
The Representation of the People Act (1951) defines the above two as corrupt practices in Section 123 (3A) and Section 123 (4).
With hate speech, the Act goes a step further and prescribes punitive measures in Section 125.
The punishment is imprisonment for a term which may extend to three years, or with fine, or with both.
Though the EC took cognizance of the hate speeches, the action seemed insufficient.
In its notice to BJP leader Anurag Thakur, the EC cited Sections 123 and 125 of the RP Act.
What is baffling, is that if the Commission had found them guilty of offences, why did it stop short of filing FIRs?
Historically EC has always taken simultaneous action under the Model Code of Conduct and the other two provisions.
While the MCC produces instant results, the penal provisions involve endless judicial processes.
No action under the IPC encouraged the leaders like Parvesh Sahib Singh Varma to commit a repeat offence.
Varma indulged in a vitriolic diatribe against the Delhi CM for which the EC indicted him a second time within a week.
The lenient approach of leaders repeatedly defying the Commission is a matter of concern.