Delhi HC dismisses plea for virtual campaigning, calls it ‘highly adventurous’

“It is not a vacuum. You are asking us to act contrary to law. The law says how the accused in custody is to be treated. There is no vacuum here,” the bench stated while dismissing the plea filed by law student Amarjeet Gupta through advocate Md. Imran Ahmad.

The Delhi High Court on Wednesday dismissed a plea seeking directions to the Election Commission of India (ECI) to develop a mechanism allowing arrested political leaders to campaign virtually. The court termed the plea as “highly adventurous” and contrary to fundamental principles of law.

A division bench comprising Acting Chief Justice Manmohan and Justice Manmeet Pritam Singh Arora stated that the petition was asking the court to legislate and make laws, which goes against the concept of separation of powers.

“It is not a vacuum. You are asking us to act contrary to law. The law says how the accused in custody is to be treated. There is no vacuum here,” the bench stated while dismissing the plea filed by law student Amarjeet Gupta through advocate Md. Imran Ahmad.

Implications for Lok Sabha Elections 2024

The court’s dismissal of the plea could have significant implications for the ongoing Lok Sabha elections, particularly for candidates or political leaders who may find themselves arrested during the campaign period.

The plea had sought directions from the ECI to create a mechanism enabling arrested leaders to campaign virtually. However, with the court’s rejection, any candidate or party leader arrested will not be able to leverage virtual modes for campaigning as per existing laws.

This could potentially impact the campaign strategies and outreach efforts of political parties, especially in cases where prominent leaders or star campaigners are taken into custody due to pending cases or charges.

While the court’s decision upholds the existing legal provisions, opposition parties may argue that it creates an uneven playing field, hampering the ability of arrested leaders to effectively campaign and reach out to voters.

The ruling could also prompt discussions around amending laws or introducing specific provisions to address such scenarios in future elections, balancing the principles of free and fair polls with the rights of arrested individuals.