New Delhi| The Supreme Court on Monday refused to entertain a plea seeking an NIA probe into the alleged Congress ‘toolkit’. The petition also demanded that the registration of the Congress party be suspended if the allegation of the party indulging in anti-national activities and playing with the lives of people turns out to be true. Justice D.Y. Chandrachud and Justice M.R. Shah’s bench asked the petitioner, advocate Shashank Shekhar Jha, how can a petition under Article 32 be entertained by the court against political propaganda? “If you don’t like the toolkit, ignore it,” Justice Chandrachud said.
Jha told the bench that there was propaganda to use the term ‘Indian version’ for coronavirus mutants and cited that Singapore had objected to the use of a term like ‘Singapore variant’. Jha said Singapore had banned everything.
“But, India is a democracy, you know that,” the bench replied. and asked Jha how courts can control forms of political propaganda. Justice Shah said the court cannot issue directions under Article 32.
Justice Chandrachud said, “Mr. Jha, please withdraw it. You may pursue the remedy under appropriate law.”
The bench said that the precious time of the Supreme Court was being wasted by “frivolous petitions”. All these petitions take up precious time of the Supreme Court.
Justice Shah said that criminal investigation is already pending in the ‘Toolkit’ case. The bench said that in general, directions cannot be issued under Article 32, under which the umbrella petition cannot be maintained.
After a brief hearing in the matter, Jha agreed to withdraw the petition with the liberty to pursue alternative remedies.
In May this year, the BJP had alleged that the Congress party had prepared a ‘toolkit’ to tarnish Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s image for dealing with the COVID-19 pandemic. However, the Congress party had accused BJP leaders of issuing fake and fabricated letters and termed it as an attempt to divert public attention and hide the government’s failure to tackle the health crisis.
The petition filed by Jha had urged the apex court to direct the Center to frame guidelines against hoarding of essential commodities during the COVID-19 pandemic. The Indian National Congress, the Central Government and the Election Commission were named as respondents in the petition.