The Election Commission on Friday banned West Bengal Bharatiya Janata Party leader Mahadev Sarkar from campaigning for 48 hours, for making sexist remarks at Trinamool Congress MLA Mahua Moitra. The ban came into force at 4 pm on Friday, PTI reported.

The Supreme Court had on Thursday ordered the Election Commission to look into the matter, following a plea by Moitra. Moitra had alleged that Sarkar made the comments in the presence of BJP candidate Kalyan Chaubey on April 22. She said the poll panel had not yet taken note of it.

In his reply, Sarkar did not deny that he made the remarks, but claimed that it was not covered under the Model Code of Conduct.

A bench of Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi, Justice Deepak Gupta and Justice Sanjiv Khanna disposed off Moitra’s writ petition, asking the poll panel to pass “necessary orders” in the matter forthwith.

The poll panel “severely reprimanded” Sarkar and “strongly condemned” him in its communication. “Criticism of other political parties, when made, shall be confined to their policies and programme, past record and work,” the Election Commission said in its letter. “Parties and Candidates shall refrain from criticism of all aspects of private life, not connected with the public activities of the leaders or workers of other parties.”

The 2019 General Elections are being held in seven phases from April 11 to May 19, and the results will be declared on May 23. Polling is being held in West Bengal in all seven phases.