Bhopal: Miffed with violations of the high court’s interim order and COVID-19 protocols in political rallies, the Gwalior bench of the Madhya Pradesh high court on Tuesday directed the district magistrates of Gwalior and Datia to register an FIR against a Union minister, former chief minister and state minister.
Hearing an interlocutory application filed by advocate Ashish Pratap Singh, the two-judge bench of the high court comprising Justices Sanjeev Kumar Shrivastava and Sheel Nagu asked for FIRs to be registered against Union minister Narendra Singh Tomar, former chief minister Kamal Nath, cabinet minister Pradyuman Singh Tomar, BJP candidate from Gwalior East Munnalal Goel and others for violating COVID-19 safety norms.
The court stated that leaders violated COVID-19 safety protocol despite its interim order of October 3, wherein all political leaders were clearly instructed to follow the norms issued by the Union government and Election Commission of India for public meetings before the by-elections. The high court has also instructed the superintendent of police of Gwalior and Datia to file a compliance report with regard to this direction before the next date of hearing, October 19, 2020.
The court said, “In view of the above situation, especially the information received by the reports of amicus curiae and contents of I.A. 6084/20 filed by petitioner, cognizable offence under IPC/Disaster Management Act prima facie appears to have been committed. Hence, FIRs have to be registered on October 14 and its compliance reports have to be filled by October 18.”
On October 3, 2020, the court in its interim order said “against all defaulting members of congregation and defaulting functionaries of the Govt/state/political parties on whose behalf, behest and for whom and in whose presence congregations took place violating the Covid-19 protocol”.
Nevertheless, till date the police have only registered an FIR against former chief minister Kamal Nath and six other Congress leaders for violating COVID-19 protocols during a rally in Bhander, Datia. For the rallies of ruling party leaders, though, the police has turned a blind eye.
Petitioner and advocate Ashish Pratap Singh along with others had filed a report pointing to COVID-19 norm violations by politicians who gathered a larger number of people at election rallies. The number of people present, they said, exceeded the limit prescribed by COVID-19 safety protocols.
The petitioner further pointed out that after the court passed an interim order on October 3, about 500 people gathered on the same day at Baghel Chhatrawas Naka Chandrawani Road, Lashkar in Gwalior. Another rally was organised by ex-MLA Munnalal Goyal on October 4 in the Gwalior legislative assembly constituency on behalf of Pradyuman Singh Tomar.
More so, a similar gathering was organised on October 4 in ward number 19 on behalf of Congress candidate Satish Singh Sikarwar. On October 5, another rally was organised at Mody House opposite Landmark Hotel on behalf of Union minister Narendra Singh Tomar.
On the same day in Bhander, Datia district, a gathering was organised by MPCC chief Kamal Nath and Phool Singh Baraiya. On October 6, COVID-19 protocol was broken yet again in ward number 1 when an election rally was organised for Ramniwas Rawat and Sunil Sharma.
When contacted, state Congress spokesperson Bhupendra Gupta said, “The administration in Gwalior-Chambal region already lodged an FIR against state Congress president Kamal Nath showing a biased attitude despite the fact he didn’t violate the COVID-19 protocol. Now, the administration must show courage to lodge FIRs against BJP leaders.”