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ISSUE?

  • The Bench Madras HC consisting of Chief Justice Sanjib Banerjee and Justice Senthilkumar Ramamoorthy specifically observed, that personal details of voters and citizens may have been obtained by the Puducherry unit of BJP, and put to use for campaign purposes. Madras High Court on Friday (26th March) directed Election Commission to file a status indicating the steps taken by it in the matter (on 31st March).
  • On further enquiry is was stated by the Bench that, “sixth respondent political party (BJP, Puducherry) may have resorted to a form of campaigning not permissible under the model code of conduct.”
  • The issue was that, a Public Interest Litigation petition filed alleging that the Puducherry unit of Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) has misused Aadhaar details of voters for election campaigning purposes. The plea alleges that the Puducherry BJP Unit has gained unauthorized access to the personal data of the residents of Union Territory of Puducherry from the Aadhar UIDAI database and is illegally using the data for its own political mileage.

PLEA BEFORE THE COURT

  • The Madras High Court, called for a report from the Election Commission regarding this matter took place after a plea was been filed by A. Anand (President of the Puducherry State Committee of the Democratic Youth Federation of India.)
  • The plea states that the petitioner as well as other Puducherry citizens received messages on their mobile phones with invitation links to join booth- level WhatsApp groups allegedly created by BJP.
  • It has been alleged in the plea that such messages were received by only those mobile numbers which are Aadhaar-linked and that, the other numbers (which aren't linked to Aadhaar) belonging to the same person didn't receive such messages.
  • The petitioner has stated in his plea that there are 30 Assembly Constituencies in the Union Territory of Puducherry and each Assembly Constituency consists of around 30 to 35 polling booths resulting in around 950 WhatsApp groups.
  • The plea further contends that the circumstances are not only a violation of the model of conduct when the Assembly election to the Union Territory of Puducherry is upcoming but a serious threat to the security and integrity of the nation.

MADRAS HC ORDER

  • The Court termed it 'unfortunate' that the Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI) rather than trying to ascertain how the personal details of voters may have been leaked from its system, accused the petitioner of not having brought the matter to the notice of the relevant authority.
  • Madras High Court observed that it was not relevant to look into any preliminary report on the investigation, though it hoped that the investigation would be completed as expeditiously as possible and immediate appropriate action taken in accordance with the law.
  • The ECI assured the Court that it would take appropriate action in the matter and till then the plea be kept pending, the Court asked the Election Commission if the April 6 polls in the Union Territory could be deferred till completion of the probe.
  • Election commission submitted that polls cannot be deferred on mere allegations but informed the court that a show-cause notice has been issued to the BJP.

What do you think about the accusations and form of campaigning used by the BJP? Let us know in the comments section below!

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