The Calcutta High Court on Monday restrained the Bharatiya Janata Party from publishing derogatory advertisements about the Trinamool Congress in violation of the Model Code of Conduct amid the Lok Sabha Elections, reported Live Law.

The court was hearing a petition filed by the Trinamool Congress seeking an injunction against the BJP for several advertisements it had published in newspapers targeting the West Bengal ruling party.

One of the advertisements, according to the Trinamool Congress, labelled the Opposition party as “Sanatan Virodhi Trinamool [anti-Sanatan Trinamool]”, reported The Indian Express. Sanatana Dharma is a term some people use as a synonym for Hinduism.

The Trinamool Congress told the court that the BJP’s advertisements had violated the Model Code of Conduct, which prohibits any political advertising on the lines of caste and religion, even under the guise of news articles.

The code is a set of guidelines issued by the poll panel that political parties and governments have to follow in the run-up to an election.

A single bench of Justice Sabyasachi Bhattacharyya noted that the BJP’s advertisements targeting the Trinamool Congress had also been published within 48 period of silence that the code imposes in a region before it goes to the polls. Parties are not allowed to campaign or publish any advertisements in this time.

The plea also contended that the Trinamool Congress had filed a complaint with the Election Commission but no action was taken by the poll body till the party decided to move court, reported Live Law.

The High Court reprimanded the Election Commission for its inaction and also noted that the BJP’s advertisements also violated guidelines of the Press Council of India.

“The ECI [Election Commission of India] has grossly failed to address the complaints of the TMC in due time,” the court said, reported The Indian Express. “This court is surprised that resolution of the complaints after the conclusion of elections is nothing to the court and as such in due failure on part of the ECI in due time this court is constrained to pass an injunction order.”

The Election Commission told the High Court that the Trinamool Congress’ complaint to them was pending resolution and that its verdict may influence the outcome of those proceedings, reported Live Law. The poll regulator told the court that it cannot entertain any request for an injunction.

BJP files appeal

On Tuesday, the BJP filed an appeal against the High Court’s judgement before a Division Bench, stating that the single judge bench did not hear it before passing the order, reported Bar and Bench.

“The TMC did not serve a notice to my client so we did not appear and the judge could not hear us before passing orders and making observations,” said the counsel representing the BJP.

Chief Justice TS Sivagnanam and Justice Hiranmay Bhattacharyya listed the matter for Wednesday.

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