Millennium Post

Powers to de-register parties: HC hopes govt will take early decision

Chennai: The Madras High Court on Monday said it expected the Centre to take an early decision on the Election Commission's recommendation made in 1998 seeking powers to de-register a political party which violated the Constitution by flouting undertakings given by it under the Representation of People (RPA) Act.
First bench comprising Chief Justice Indira Banerjee and Justice M Sundar made the observation while disposing of a public interest litigation seeking quashing of a communication by the EC which had stated that the poll body does not have powers to de-register political parties for such violations.
Unless the recommendations of the EC were accepted, "it is doubtful whether a political party once registered can be de-registered except in the circumstances mentioned by the Supreme Court in the Indian National Congress case," the bench said.
Petitioner P A Joseph, a city resident, submitted that the EC can take action to cancel the registration of a political party if its leaders make hate, derogatory speeches against any religion, caste or race in exercise of power vested under Article 324 read with section 29A(5), 123(3) of RPA and Section 16A of Election Symbols (Reservation and Allotment) Order 1968.
He had sent a representation to the EC on June 30 last with regard to this. But the commission had replied that it did not have powers to de-register political parties.
The petitioner wanted to know who was the controlling and monitoring authority under law to take action in case of violation of undertaking given by a political party under Section 29 A (5) of RPA.
Senior Counsel K M Vijayan, appearing for the petitioner, argued that the EC which was a constitutional authority having power of registration of a political party is also supposed to have the power of de-registration.
EC's counsel Niranjan Rajagoplan submitted that when there was no statute, then article 324 of the Constitution under which the commission is vested with superintending powers in election matters can be invoked. But in the present situation, Sec 29A of RPA speaks about the registration but not about de-registration of political parties.
Further, he said in 1998, the EC had recommended to the government to amend the law enabling it to de-register a political party which violates the Constitution. The matter was pending before Parliament.
Disposing of the PIL, the bench said it expected the Union Law Ministry to take an early decision on the recommendation made by the EC.
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