15/04/2019 2:53 PM IST

Is Election Commission 'Toothless'? SC To Examine Poll Panel's Powers To Tackle Hate Speech

The top court took note of the alleged hate speeches made by Mayawati and Yogi Adityanath during poll campaign.

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The Supreme Court said it will on Tuesday examine the Election Commission’s contention that it has limited legal power to deal with hate speeches of politicians during electioneering. 

The top court took note of the alleged hate speeches made by BSP supremo Mayawati and UP Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath during poll campaign and sought to know what action the EC had initiated against them so far. 

The counsel appearing for poll panel said that it had already issued notices against the two politicians.

The SC bench was hearing a PIL filed by an NRI yoga teacher based in the United Arab Emirates (UAE), seeking a direction to the EC to take “strict action” against political parties if their spokespersons make remarks based on caste and religion in the media in the run up to general elections.

A bench headed by Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi has summoned a representative of the EC for Tuesday. 

The bench referred to submissions of the EC that they can issue notice, then advisory and finally lodge a complaint against an errant politician for violating the Model Code of Conduct (MCC) by giving hate speeches based on caste and religion during campaign.

“The EC says they are toothless. They say that they first issue notice, then advisory and then complain,” the bench said.

EC told the court that it was powerless and toothless against hate speech and religious speeches made during campaigns.

“Mayawati was required to file her explanation by April 12 but it was not done...we can only issue advisories and in case of a repeat offence, register a complaint...”, the court was informed, LiveLaw reported.

The poll panel said it did not have the power to de-recognise or disqualify the person and could only send advisories. The EC could filed a complaint if a candidate repeatedly violated the poll code, it said.

(With PTI inputs)