BJP approaches SC against order restraining publishing of certain 'defamatory' advertisements about AITMC

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Supreme Court has been told that Single Judge bench of Calcutta High Court erred by concluding that interference was warranted without considering that BJP had not filed its response to the notice issued to it by ECI

Bhartiya Janata Party (BJP) has approached the Supreme Court of India against the ex-parte mandatory injunction granted as interim relief to All India Trinamool Congress (AITMC) by the Calcutta High Court restraining BJP from further publication of the allegedly offending advertisements till June 4, 2024.

Yesterday, the petition was mentioned by Senior Advocate Saurabh Mishra for urgent hearing before a bench of Justice Bela M Trivedi and Justice Pankaj Mithal which agreed to consider listing the matter.

It has been pertinently highlighted that such interim relief granted by the High Court was beyond the prayer sought by AITMC which was limited only to the grant of interim order directing ECI to take steps in accordance with law.

"Single Judge erred by granting an interim injunction based on the purported violation of the Model Code of Conduct (“MCC”) without taking into consideration that the issue is pending before the Election Commission of India (“ECI”), which by virtue of Article 324 read with Article 329 of the Constitution of India, has the authority to take appropriate action against any party that violates the MCC", the SLP states.

BJP has further submitted that it was unaware of the writ proceedings initiated by AITMC and that the same was filed under the pretext of alleged inaction by the ECI with respect to the complaints filed by it.

"The Respondent no.1 deliberately invited the Ld. Single Judge Bench to address the merits of the dispute. As the AITMC’s complaints were limited to the alleged inaction on the part of the ECI, no interference on the merits was warranted...", top court has been further told.

On the High Court's division bench confirming the single judge's order, the SLP states, "The Hon’ble Division Bench ought to have considered that the matter was heard and the order was passed by the Ld. Single Bench in the absence of the Petitioner, which has a significant impact on its ability to canvas during the elections...".

High Court while passing the impugned order had said that resolution of the complaints filed by AITMC after the election was over meant nothing to the court and, as such, in view of the failure on the part of the ECI to interdict and act on the complaints of the petitioner in due time, the court was compelled to pass an injunction order.

AITMC had approached the High Court aggrieved by the advertisements published in the newspaper- Ananda Bazaar Patrika, which according to it were based on unverified and false information.

Case Title: Bharatiya Janata Party vs. All India Trinamool Congress & Ors