Elections 2024: Prohibitory orders ignored by most major parties

City Elections Top Story

Section 144 was imposed in the city from 6 p.m. yesterday.

Despite the imposition of section 144 before the Lok Sabha (LS) elections scheduled in Bangalore tomorrow, Congress party workers were seen holding door-to-door campaigns in a group of 10 to 15 people and distributing pamphlets to people in Nayandahalli today.

Members from the Youth Congress were also seen campaigning in Rajendra Nagar today. Similarly, Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) workers were seen holding a political campaign in the residential areas of Ambedkar Nagar.

Despite restrictions, tables were set up by political parties for promotion.

Residents of Shivajinagar and Chickpete said they  witnessed political parties campaigning yesterday night (around 8 or 9 p.m.). People said party members visited shops and houses to garner support for their parties.

Abdul Salam, owner of a paan  shop near Russell Market said, “Last night, party members from the Indian National Congress (INC) visited my shop and said the Congress government will fix the bad roads in Shivajinagar, and financially help small shop owners like us.”

Abdus Samad, who sells earrings on a footpath in Shivajinagar said he was also visited by party members yesterday night.

City Police do not have any data regarding violations under Section 144. N. Satheesh Kumar, additional Commissioner of Police, West, said the Commissioner’s office collate the total number of violations only on Friday or Saturday, as any cases of violation today will be registered at local police stations.

Gangadhar M, a police officer from Shivajinagar police station patrolling in Russell Market said no cases have been registered (at the Shivajinagar PS) for breach of Section 144 as of yet. “We were not aware of any campaign conducted yesterday after 6 p.m. If someone would have informed us, we would have taken action.” He added that no political parties had staged campaign rallies after 6 p.m. in areas that come under the Shivajinagar police station’s jurisdiction.

Like Shivajinagar, Chickpete also saw violation of prohibitory orders. Mahesh, a resident of Chickpete said yesterday night and today in the early hours of morning, party members visited some houses to distribute flyers. He said he did not complain to the police about the same, and did not know if anyone else had complained. He added that he was aware of the imposition of section 144.

A police officer from Chickpete police station, on the condition of anonymity said they have not received any complaints from the public about the violation of section 144. However, last night they fined three youths for consuming liquor in public.

V Veerabhadraiah, Hoysala 1, Vidhan Soudha Police Station said patrolling officers are stationed near every polling booth to ensure that code of conduct is maintained. “However, there could be breaches if people can somehow avoid police surveillance. The public is requested to call at 112 to report violations,” he said.

Party workers campaign at Nayandahalli today.

“If we see a rally or procession, we can stop it and impose a fine; but to visit every home to check for violations is not our responsibility,” he said. 

Bengaluru City Police Commissioner, B. Dayanand announced that section 144 will be enforced from 6 p.m. on April 24 to midnight on April 26. Under this section, public meetings, rallies, gatherings of more than five people, burning of effigies, possession of lethal weapons, provocative speeches, and publicly raising political slogans are strictly prohibited.

Lakshmi Iyengar, a lawyer from the city said Section 144 is mainly implemented so that voters can think clearly whom to vote for in the 48-hour period before the elections day. “This time period is crucial so that voters are not persuaded by campaigns of a political party right till the end, and can step aside and think for themselves,” she said.

Keeping an eye on violations: NGO files

Members of Law and Policy Research Institution said that they received a response from the police commissioner, but no action has been taken.

Members of Law and Policy Research Institution (LAPRI) have filed 28 complaints with the Election Commission of India and various Chief Electoral Officers (CEOs) regarding electoral violations.

Murtuza Ali Baig, an advocate, said, “We’re constantly monitoring and reporting any breaches of the Model Code of Conduct (MCC) and Representation of the People Act (RPA). The ECI’s failure to address these violations undermines democracy and must be urgently looked at.”

On the eve of polling day in Karnataka’s Dakshin Kannada, Law and Policy Research Institution addressed media persons about the ECI’s failure to address the violation of the Model Code of Conduct (MCC) and Representation of the People Act (RPA) by political parties, especially Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP)- the ruling party.

The members of LAPRI mentioned that they are first in Karnataka, and second in India to file a police complaint against Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

BT Venkatesh, lawyer and former state public prosecutor, said, “The MCC and RPA are vital for fair elections, yet political parties often flout these guidelines with impunity. The ECI’s inaction erodes public trust and jeopardizes the electoral process,”

If the ECI doesn’t act, LAPRI is prepared to take the matter privately to the magistrate court to uphold democratic principles, he added.

The members spoke about how the current government’s control over key institutions like the Election Commission of India (ECI), Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI), Enforcement Directorate (ED), and to some extent, the judiciary, has led to its ineffectiveness. Akhila Vidhyasandra, practicing lawyer, said, “If this government is re-elected, it could lead to the collapse of the Indian democratic system. We, as citizens, need to wake up and take action to preserve our democratic rights and the integrity of our institutions.”

She added, “LAPRI is actively filing complaints with the ECI and urging for swift action against violations of the Model Code of Conduct and the Representation of the People Act. The public’s awareness of these issues is crucial, and we’re working with other forums and NGOs such as Anhad, ReachLawyer, and Vimochana, to reach rural areas where violations occur often.”

BJP candidate from Bengaluru South constituency Tejasvi Surya violated the Model Code of Conduct (MCC).

Jadiyappa Gedlagatti, Senior Assistant Director (media department) at the Election Commission office said that many private organizations have submitted complaints to the Bangalore Bruhat Mahanagara Palike (BBMP) Divisional Engineer Officer (DEO) office. “The DEO office has sent several complaints to the head office. The DEO will initiate a case against politicians based on evidence, leading to court proceedings,” he said.

Murtuza Ali Baig criticized the ECI’s lack of response to repeated complaints, highlighting the impact of ongoing violations on elections.   

Contributed by: Amisha Mohite, Arunima Pal, Ishika Sharma, Vandana Batra, K. Nitika Shivani, Mansi Jagani