The Bharatiya Janata Party on Thursday moved the Supreme Court against a Calcutta High Court order restricting it from publishing derogatory advertisements about the Trinamool Congress amid the Lok Sabha elections, Bar and Bench reported.

On May 20, the High Court restrained the BJP from publishing such advertisements on a petition by the Trinamool Congress seeking an injunction against the Hindutva party.

A day later, 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.

The division bench on Wednesday refused to interfere with the single-judge bench order.

On Thursday, the BJP approached the Supreme Court seeking an urgent hearing in the matter. Representing the party, Senior Advocate Saurabh Mishra stated an “ex-parte” order, which will remain in force till June 4, was passed against the BJP.

An “ex-parte” order is one passed against a defendant in their absence.

Trinamool Congress’ plea

The Trinamool Congress had alleged in its petition before the High Court that one of the advertisements by the BJP labelled the Opposition party as “Sanatan Virodhi Trinamool [anti-Sanatan Trinamool]”. Sanatana Dharma is a term some people use as a synonym for Hinduism.

The ruling party in West Bengal also contended that it had filed a complaint with the Election Commission but no action was taken by the poll panel till the party decided to move court.

The High Court had noted that the BJP’s advertisements targeting the Trinamool Congress had been published within the 48-hour silence period that the Model Code of Conduct imposes in a region before it goes to the polls. Parties are not allowed to campaign or publish any advertisements in this time period.

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

The court also reprimanded the Election Commission for its inaction and 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.

After the BJP’s appeal, the High Court told the counsel for the party on Wednesday to return to the single-judge bench and seek a review of the order, Live Law reported.

The division bench noted that all political parties had to follow healthy electoral practices as the voter ultimately becomes the victim of a misleading poll campaign because they “may either get led or misled”.