A former DGP of Uttar Pradesh and an environmentalist have urged the Supreme Court to direct the Election Commission to ban roadshows and bike rallies during polls, saying they violate EC's instructions and cause damage to the environment. The plea, filed by former director general of police Vikram Singh and environmentalist Shaivika Agrawal, was mentioned for urgent listing on Monday before a bench comprising Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi and justices Deepak Gupta and Sanjiv Khanna.
The bench, however, refused to accord urgent listing. In their plea, the petitioners have said roadshows and bike rallies during election period cause air and noise pollution and traffic jams which result in inconvenience to the general public.
The plea, drawn by advocate Virag Gupta, said instructions issued by the Election Commission with regard to roadshows and political processions mandate that vehicles must be registered and a convoy cannot have more than 10 vehicles.
As per EC's instructions, it added, two convoys must maintain a distance of at least 200 metres, more than half the road cannot be covered, the number of vehicles and persons joining the roadshow has to be intimated to authorities in advance.
"However, the said instructions have remained on paper and are being violated with impunity by all political parties," the plea stated. It claimed that modified vehicles, often called "raths", are being used in these roadshows but they are in contravention to several rules including the Motor Vehicle Act, 1988 and Central Motor Vehicle Rules, 1989.
"Most of the roadshows involve star campaigners perched on modified vehicles which are called raths. These royal raths, during democratic elections, are modified to accommodate all luxuries to have cabins, kitchen, toilets, hydraulic lifts, internet, TV etc. Moreover, these raths are very expensive and in excess to the election expenditure allowed by Election Commission," it said.
It also said that VVIPs are vulnerable to terrorist attacks during campaign in such raths and roadshows are also a threat to their security. "The nation has already lost a former prime minister due to a terrorist attack at a political rally. A former prime minister of Pakistan was also shot dead when she was standing through the sunroof of her vehicle in a political roadshow," it said.
The plea has sought a direction to EC to not allow roadshows during elections.