An Ex-DGP of Uttar Pradesh and an environmentalist have urged the Supreme Court to direct the Election Commission of India to ban roadshows and bike rallies during election campaigns, saying that they violate Election Commission’s instructions and destroy the environment.
The plea was filed by the former Director General of Police Vikram Singh and environmentalist Shaivika Agrawal, was mentioned for urgent listing on Monday before a bench comprising Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi and justices Deepak Gupta and Sanjiv Khanna.
The bench, however, refused to agree urgent listing.
In their petition, they have said roadshows and bike rallies during election campaign cause air and noise pollution and traffic jams which result in discomfort to the general public.
The plea, drawn by advocate Virag Gupta, said instructions issued by the Election Commission with regard to roadshows and political processions mandate that vehicles must be registered and a convoy cannot have more than 10 vehicles.
As per EC’s instructions, two convoys must maintain a distance of at least 200 metres, more than half the road cannot be covered, the number of vehicles and persons joining the roadshow has to be reported to the authorities in advance.
“However, the said instructions have remained on paper and are being violated with impunity by all political parties,” the plea stated.
“Most of the roadshows involve star campaigners perched on modified vehicles which are called raths. These ‘royal’ raths, during democratic elections, are modified to accommodate all luxuries to have cabins, kitchen, toilets, hydraulic lifts, internet, TV etc. They are being used in these roadshows but they breach several rules including the Motor Vehicle Act, 1988 and Central Motor Vehicle Rules, 1989.
Moreover, these raths are very expensive and in excess to the election expenditure allowed by Election Commission,” it said.
It also said that VVIPs are susceptible to terrorist attacks during campaign in such raths and roadshows are also a threat to their security.
“The nation has already lost a former prime minister due to a terrorist attack at a political rally. A former prime minister of Pakistan was also shot dead when she was standing through the sunroof of her vehicle in a political roadshow,” it said.
The plea has sought a direction to EC to not allow roadshows during election campaigns.