Bhopal: Miffed by the violation of Madhya Pradesh High Court's interim order and the flouting of COVID-19 protocols in political rallies, the Gwalior bench of the HC on Tuesday directed the district magistrates of Gwalior and Datia to register FIRs against a Union minister, a former Chief Minister and a minister.
The two-judge bench was hearing an interlocutory application filed by advocate Ashish Pratap Singh. Justices Sanjeev Kumar Shrivastava and Sheel Nagu directed the Gwalior and Datia collector to register an FIR against Union Minister Narendra Singh Tomar, former Chief Minister Kamal Nath, cabinet minister Pradyuman Singh Tomar, Munnalal Goel, the BJP candidate from Gwalior East, and others for violating COVID-19 safety norms.
The court said that despite its interim order on October 3, which had clear instructions to follow safety norms issued by the Centre and the Election Commission of India during public meetings for bypolls, leaders had violated them. The MP HC also asked the Superintendent of Police of Gwalior and Datia for a compliance report before the next date of hearing scheduled for October 19.
“In view of the above situation, especially the information received by the reports of amicus curiae and contents of I.A. 6084/20 filed by petitioner, cognizable offence under IPC/Disaster Management Act prima facie appears to have been committed. Hence, FIRs have to be registered on October 14 and its compliance reports have to be filled by October 18,” the court said.
In its interim order on October 3, the court had said that action should be taken “against all defaulting members of congregation and defaulting functionaries of the Govt/state/political parties on whose behalf, behest and for whom and in whose presence congregations took place violating the Covid-19 protocol”.
However, till date, the police has only registered one FIR against former CM Kamal Nath and six other Congress leaders for violating COVID-19 protocols during a rally in Bhander in Datia. Action has not been initiated against leaders of the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP).
Petitioner and advocate Ashish Pratap Singh, along with others, had filed a report mentioning COVID-19 violations by politicians at large rallies where the number of people exceeded the limit prescribed by the pandemic protocol.
The petitioner further pointed out that the day court passed an interim order on October 3, about 500 people gathered at Baghel Chhatrawas Naka Chandrawani Road, Lashkar, in Gwalior. Another rally was organised by ex-MLA Munnalal Goyal on October 4 in Gwalior legislative assembly constituency on behalf of Pradyumna Singh Tomar.
On October 4, a similar meeting was organised in ward number 19 on behalf of Congress candidate Satish Singh Sikarwar. A day later, a rally was organised behalf of senior BJP leader and Union minister Narendra Singh Tomar at Mody House opposite Landmark Hotel.
The same day, at Bhander in Datia district, MPCC chief Kamal Nath and Phool Singh Baraiya had organised a rally. Protocol was flouted again the following day in ward number one when an election rally was organised for Ramniwas Rawat and Sunil Sharma.
“The administration in Gwalior-Chambal region has already lodged an FIR against state Congress president Kamal Nath,” said state Congress’ spokesperson Bhupendra Gupta. He added that the administration was “biased” and that Nath had not violated COVID-19 protocol. “Now, the administration must show courage and lodge FIRs against BJP leaders,” he added.