SC junks PIL seeking ban on ‘Jai Shri Ram’ slogans in Bengal polls

New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Tuesday junked a PIL, which sought barring a political party from raising Jai Shri Ram slogan during West Bengal elections and also challenged the Election Commission’s decision to conduct Assembly elections in the state in eight phases.

A Bench of Chief Justice S.A. Bobde and Justices A.S. Bopanna and V. Ramasubramanian told petitioner-advocate Manohar Lal Sharma that if he feels any poll norm as per Representation of People Act (RPA) is being violated then he should move the high court.

Sharma argued that he is against religious sentiments being destroyed and cited one political party using the Jai Shri Ram slogan continuously.

Sharma urged the apex court to stop this religious activity and religious sloganeering during election in West Bengal.

The bench reiterated that the top court is not the right forum, and he should move the high court.

The plea also sought a direction to the CBI to register an FIR into the alleged chanting of religious slogans during electioneering in West Bengal. The plea contended that the chanting of “Jai Shri Ram, other religious slogans are creating disharmony”.

Sharma insisted that this is an offence under the IPC and the Representation of the People Act, 1951.

After a brief hearing in the matter, the bench said: “We don’t agree with you. We have read the whole case, dismissed.”

The plea had said: “Whether using a provocative religious slogan ‘Jai Shri Ram’ is for electoral benefits as well as others is not violated S.123(3) & 125 of the Representation of the People Act, 1951,”

Sharma said holding of election in West Bengal in 8 phases is a violation of right to equality under Article 14 of the Constitution. He pointed out elections, around the same time, in Kerala, Tamil Nadu and Puducherry were being held in a single phase and also the election in Assam is going to be held in 3 phases.

“There is no law that has been framed yet empowering the Election Commission to adopt an unequal treatment of election among the 5 states as per their whim,” said the plea.