Telangana HC junks TRS plea for deletion of car-like symbols

Telangana HC junks TRS plea for deletion of car-like symbols
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Says once election process is set in motion, court can’t interfere

Hyderabad: The Telangana High Court on Tuesday dismissed a plea filed by the ruling Telangana Rashtra Samithi (TRS) to direct the Election Commission (EC) and Telangana Chief Electoral Officer to delete all election symbols which are identical to the party symbol "car".

The HC division bench, comprising Chief Justice Ujjal Bhuyan and Justice CV Bhaskar Reddy, heard the writ petition filed by TRS general secretary Soma Bharath Kumar alleging inaction of the Election Commission and the State CEO in considering the petitioner's representation dated October 10 requesting ECI to delete symbols which are identical to that of the party symbol car.

It said removal of symbols from the list of free symbols was needed in order to remove confusion/conflict of interest and ensure there is no overlapping of symbols, when it comes to pictorial representation, which are to be used in the Munugodu by-election scheduled to be held on November 3.

The petitioner contended that the elections that are to be scheduled and conducted in the near future in the State, more particularly across the country are illegal, arbitrary, in violation of provisions of the Representation of the Peoples Act.

On behalf of TRS party, senior counsel Raghuram informed the court that it is the statutory duty of the EC to act on the representation of the petitioner as it the right of the party to have an election symbol… an election symbol is a tool by which voters are drawn to exercise their franchise.

He pointed out that in the 2018 general elections, TRS complained to EC seeking deletion of the symbol allotted to the Samajwadi party "truck", which resembled car. The same was deleted. He sought a similar order from the court. If not, there will be serious repercussions on the election result.

The major chunk of voters from rural areas and hamlets get confused as the eight symbols which are allotted to independent candidates are closely identical to TRS symbol "car"--camera, chapati roller, dolli, road roller, soap dish, television, sewing machine, ship, Raghuram alleged.

Chief Justice Bhuyan, while going through the list of symbols observed that except chapati roller, all other symbols on the list are quite different from car.

Avinash Desai, standing counsel for EC, informed the court that the commission had considered the representation of TRS and rejected its plea on October 17. It furnished the copy to the court as well as the petitioner's counsel.

Desai submitted that the TRS petition is not maintainable as the petitioner made the representation on October 10, whereas the notification for the Munugodu by-election was issued on October 7. He said once the notification was issued, the process for elections commences. Seeking deletion of certain election symbols from the list is violation of Article 329 (4) b of the Constitution.

He informed that all election symbols which the TRS wants to be deleted were there in the list of symbols with EC since the party was recognised. The petitioner had never complained to EC to delete the symbols earlier. The rejection order was also served to the petitioner on October 17 itself, Desai averred before the court.

After hearing contentions of both sides, the bench dismissed the petition filed saying once the election notification was issued to Munugodu by-elections, the high court can't interfere.

On the representation of TRS to EC regarding 2018 elections, the commission deleted iron box and truck from the list of symbols as it resembled car. The present eight symbols exist on the list since the date TRS became a recognised party. The court said in its order that the petitioner's plea to direct EC to consider its application once again is also declined.

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