The Single Judge Bench of the #DelhiHighCourt, J. Prateek Jalan, has in a recent case of Anna YSR Congress Party vs The Election Commission of India passed a #Judgment dated 04-06-2021 and reiterated the grounds for #deregistration of a #politicalparty.
In this case, the Petitioner, Anna YSR Congress Party and the Respondent No. 2, Yuvajana Sramika Rythu (YSR) Congress Party are both political parties registered with the Election Commission of India (ECI), the Respondent No. 1, under Section 29A of the Representation of the People Act, 1951 (the Act). The Respondent No. 2 was registered as a political party in 2011 under the name ‘Yuvajana Sramika Rythu Congress Party’ and the Petitioner was registered in 2015 under the name ‘YSR Congress Party’. The Respondent No. 2 is presently the governing party in the State of Andhra Pradesh.
The Petitioner had addressed a representation dated 30-06-2020 to the ECI alleging that the Respondent No. 1 contested the 2019 Lok Sabha General Elections using the abbreviation ‘YSR Congress Party’, which is deceptively similar to that of the Petitioner, rather than using its registered name ‘Yuvajana Sramika Rythu Congress Party’. However, the ECI did not take any action as requested by the Petitioner.
Hence, the Petitioner filed a Writ Petition under Article 226 of the Constitution before the Delhi High Court seeking directions to ECI to withdraw the registration of the Respondent No. 2 as a political party and to withdraw its status as a recognised State Party on the ground that the abbreviated name used by the Respondent No. 2 is deceptively similar to that of the Petitioner.
The Delhi High Court made the following observations regarding deregistration of Respondent No. 2 in this case:
1) That Para 16A of the Election Symbols (Reservation and Allotment) Order, 1968 empowers ECI to suspend or withdraw recognition of a recognised political party on the ground of failure to observe Model Code of Conduct or follow lawful directions of ECI.
2) Further, ECI has the power to cancel the registration of a political party in three circumstances, (a) if the political party has obtained its registration through fraud/forgery, or (b) if the party wants to amend its nomenclature, rules and regulations, etc, or (c) any other ground such as the party has been declared unlawful by the Central Government under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act, 1967 or any other law, etc.
3) That in this case, the Respondent No. 2 was registered much prior to the Petitioner’s registration as a political party. Hence, at the time of registration of Petitioner’s Party, it was well aware that the Respondent No. 2 is already registered as a political party and uses an abbreviation which includes the term “YSR”. Thus, prior to registration, the Petitioner would have apprehended the confusion, if any, regarding the name of the party and could have modified the name of its party. However, the Petitioner did not do so and hence, it cannot now raise a grievance at this stage.
Therefore, based on the aforesaid grounds, the High Court refused to cancel the registration of Respondent No. 2 and thereby, dismissed the Writ Petition.
Senior Legal Associate
The Indian Lawyer