The Gwalior bench of Madhya Pradesh High Court on Wednesday directed the magistrates of Datia and Gwalior districts to register an FIR against Union minister Narendra Singh Tomar and Congress leader Kamal Nath for allegedly violating COVID-19 protocol during electioneering.
The division bench of Justice Sheel Nagu and Justice R K Shrivastava issued the interim direction during the hearing of a PIL filed by advocate A P Singh.
Bypolls to 28 Assembly seats in Madhya Pradesh are scheduled to be held on November 3.
The court order said that the petitioner pointed out that the congregation was held on October 5, 2020 at Modi House, opposite to Landmark Hotel in Gwalior, where Union Minister Narendra Singh Tomar spoke, but no FIR was filed against Tomar.
The court order said that the petitioner also pointed out that another gathering took place at Bhander in Datia district on the same day in the presence of former chief minister Kamal Nath, even as no FIR was lodged against him.
The court directed the district magistrates of Datia and Gwalior "to ensure registration of FIR against Tomar and Nath for the alleged commission of cognizable offence of breach of COVID-19 protocol as informed by the petitioner and report compliance on the next date of hearing".
The court issued interim directions to thedistrict magistrates of all nine districts falling within the court's territorial jurisdiction, restraining them from giving permission to any candidate/political party for holding physical congregations of any number of people unless the political party applying for it satisfies the DM concerned holding a virtual election campaign was not possible.
"The decision of the district magistrate permitting any political party to conduct physical congregation shall become effective only after the Election Commission of India (ECI) approves the same in writing," the court order said.
"Holding of physical congregation even if permitted by district magistrate and the ECI can take place only after the political party/candidate intending to hold a congregation deposits money with the DM, which is sufficient to purchase double the number of masks and sanitizers required for protecting and sanitizing the number of persons expected in the congregation," the court order said.
"And also when a candidate files an undertaking on affidavit that he shall be personally liable to distribute masks and sanitizers to all the members of the congregation before the meeting/congregation starts," it added.