The Delhi High Court on Tuesday sought the Centre and the city government’s response in six weeks on a plea challenging Aam Aadmi Party’s (AAP) act of allegedly making use of public money for Ganesh Chaturthi festival promotion by violating laws and also seeking de-recognition of the party.
Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal and other ministers should be removed from their positions due to their “deliberate breach” of the Constitution and the Representation of People Act, according to advocate-petitioner Manohar Lal Sharma.
In the argument, it was claimed that the city government organised a Ganesh Chaturthi event on September 10, 2021, which was aired on TV channels, and that the state is prohibited from promoting religious celebrations under the Supreme Court’s enunciation of the Constitution.
It stated that because India is a secular nation, no government can be seen engaging in religious activities while using public’s money.
A division bench of Chief Justice Satish Chandra Sharma and Justice Subramonium Prasad said: “The September 20, 2021 order of this court reveals that the respondents counsel were granted time to file replies. Respondents no. 1 and 2 (Centre and city government) have not filed their replies. They are granted six weeks time to do the needful.”
However, the Election Commission has filed its counter-affidavit according to the HC’s September 20, 2021, order.
Earlier, representing the city government, lawyer Rahul Mehra had said that it was a “totally motivated and mischievous” petition filed in a form of a Public Interest Litigation (PIL) that needs to be dismissed with heavy costs.
The Chief Minister requested the media to cover the celebration for individuals who could participate in it from their homes since the city government had forbidden the setting up of pandals to minimise congestion during the Covid-19 outbreak, Mehra had stated.
According to the petition, Sections 408 (criminal breach of trust) and 420 (cheating) of the Indian Penal Code are invoked by using public money for promotion or funding of religious work or trusts by the state.