Case BriefsHigh Courts

Jammu & Kashmir High Court: A Division Bench comprising of Gita Mittal, CJ and Tashi Rabstan, J. directed the respondents to submit the status report on the education provisions that were to be provided to the students of the State.

It was stated that this Court granted time to the respondents to file a status report with regard to the status of infrastructure in the schools situated in rural and urban areas for which on request even the time was extended but still there was a failure to comply with the directions. It has been directed by way of PIL to only dispense funds for “100% saturation of toilets in all schools”. Additionally, provision has been introduced for the provision of drinking water and electricity supply further the Education Department wants to achieve construction of boundary walls in all schools. Plus furniture and other amenities were to be given but in a ‘time-bound manner’.

The Court stated that respondents never gave a time frame regarding till when the infrastructure in schools would be arranged nor any audit of the deficiencies in the infrastructure were submitted. It has been pressed upon that deficiencies in Right to Education cannot be tolerated where it can be clearly seen that Education Department was not concerned about even assessing deficiencies let alone proceeding to supply the same in any planned manner. Accordingly, the Court has demanded the appearance of the respondent where the complete details of deficiencies and time frame of the work to be done to be submitted. [All J&K Ladakh Teacher Federation v. State, 2018 SCC OnLine J&K 1015, Order dated 26-12-2018]

Case BriefsHigh Courts

Delhi High Court: Disposing of a petition which sought freezing of the symbol “elephant” as the reserved symbol of  Bahujan Samaj Party, the Court held that there is no power in the Election Commission of India under the Election Symbols (Reservation and Allotment) Order, 1968 to withdraw/freeze an election symbol once allotted and/or reserved for a recognised political party and the only manner in which the symbol once allotted/reserved is lost, is on loss of recognition.

The petitioner had sought to draw the attention of the EC to the practice of erecting at public places and at State expense, statutes of political functionaries and symbols of the the ruling party, especially in Uttar Pradesh and to freeze the symbol “elephant” under Clauses 6 and 6-A of the Symbols Order.

Observing that recognition as a political party carries a right to a reserved symbol, the Court held that it appears that a symbol once reserved for a recognised political party under the prevalent laws, cannot be taken away. This is certainly a lacuna and which, if the averments of the petitioner are correct, has indeed been exploited by BSP. The Court held that a political party in power cannot use development activities carried out by it and which the government in any case is expected to perform, to propagate its symbol or its leaders so as to come in the way of a free and fair election. The performance of a political party in governance should be allowed to speak for itself.

The Bench of Rajiv Sahai Endlaw, J.  issued the following directions to the EC:

  • within a period of three months, consider issuing appropriate direction/guideline within the meaning of Clause 16-A(b) of the Symbols Order preventing recognised political party in power from using public places and public funds for propagating its reserve symbol and/or its leaders, so as to come in the way of conducting of free, fair and peaceful election and to safeguard the interest of the general public and the electorate in future; and,
  • after issuing the said direction/guideline, within a further period of three months therefrom, consider whether the actions already done by the respondent BSP and as complained of by the petitioner are in violation of the said guideline and if finds so, to give an opportunity to the respondent BSP to undo the same, so as to in future not obstruct free and fair election and if the respondent BSP does not avail of the said opportunity, to initiate proceedings under Clause 16-A of the Symbols Order for withdrawal of recognition thereof.

[Common  Cause v. Bahujan Samaj Party, 2016 SCC OnLine Del 3787, decided on July 7, 2016]