NEW DELHI (TIP): BJP on May 1 termed as “hasty” EC’s order to register an FIR against its PM nominee Narendra Modi, saying the poll watchdog appeared to have lost sight of the fact that its move marked an infringement of the right to free speech promised under the Constitution.
BJP leader Arun Jaitley said EC erred in treating Modi’s comments to the media on Wednesday outside the polling station where he had cast his vote as a violation of the rule which bars public meetings in the polling area. Referring to EC’s order saying that media outlets which telecast Modi’s comment were also guilty of violating the Representation of People’s Act, Jaitley wrote on his blog, “A public meeting is a public meeting, the media bite is not a public meeting.
If media is to be prosecuted for displaying comments of politicians on a voting day, such a provision will fall foul of constitutional guarantee of free speech since it is not covered by the prescribed restrictions under Article 19 (2).” He said the EC has explained its directive to take action against Modi and media by saying that they violated the law by holding and publicizing a “public meeting” in the ‘polling area. Jaitley said media runs the risk of attracting legal provisions if the entire country is treated as “polling area” as it cannot but report speeches treats the entire country as “polling area”.
He also said politicians routinely give bites to media after casting vote and, hence, Modi did not do anything extraordinary. “Prof Amartya Sen spoke to the media after his vote yesterday. He gave his reasons why he does not favour Modi. The prime minister spoke to the media after casting his vote in Assam. So did most other political leaders. I am not pleading for their prosecution. I am only illustrating that an interpretation being given by the Election Commission may fall foul,” wrote Jaitley.