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  • In Himanta Biswa Sarma v. The Election Commission of India & 5 Ors, the Gauhati High Court noted that the Courts must revisit section 126 of the Representation of People Act which prohibits campaigning during a period of 48 hours, ending with an hour fixed for conclusion of poll.
  • A Single Judge Bench of Justice Rumi Kumari Phookan noted this while quashing a criminal case registered against Assam CM, Himanta Biswa Sarma for allegedly violating the code of conduct during the 2019 Lok Sabha polls.
  • In this case, a complaint was filed against Sarma under the direction of the Election Commission of India (ECI) and against the news channel "News Live".
  • The complaint alleged that the CM and his wife who also happens to be the MD of the news channel broke the Code of Conduct of the Lok Sabha Election. 
  • The complaint further said that the news channel telecasted a live interview of Sarma within 48 hours of the first phase of polls. 
  • The Court observed that after filing the petition, the complainant remained absent and did not file the required documents to support his petition.
  • The Ld. Court also observed that such a complaint can be dismissed u/s 203 CrPC for non-prosecution as the complainant has failed to showcase a prima facie case.
  • The Court noted that the lower Court exceeded its jurisdiction in acting as an inquiry officer by directing the ECI.
  • The court also noted that while issuing summons against the CM and his wife, the court failed to procure the complainant's attendance and failed to record the reason for his absence. 
  • The Hon'ble Court quashed the complaint and held that the section 126 of the Representation of Peoples Act needs reconsideration.
  • Accordingly, the appeal was allowed. 


 

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