Cracking the whip on Narendra Modi's close aide Amit Shah and SP leader Azam Khan, the Election Commission on Friday banned them from holding public meetings, processions or roadshows in Uttar Pradesh and asked authorities to initiate criminal proceedings against them.
The EC also directed the chief secretary to ensure that no act of commission or omission is resorted to by BJP leader Amit Shah and UP Minister Azam Khan that can affect public tranquility and law and order.
The EC was also critical of the role of Samajwadi Party's government in the state for "soft-pedalling" on registration of FIRs against Khan and not dealing with the sensitive issue with alacrity.
The tough stand was taken by the EC at a top-level meeting of Chief Election Commissioner V S Sampath and Election Commissioners H S Brahma and S N A Zaidi where the poll body exercised its constitutional powers to prevent the two leaders from further vitiating the poll atmosphere.
"The Commission hereby directs under Article 324 of the Constitution of India and all other powers enabling in this behalf, that necessary FIRs should be immediately filed and criminal proceedings initiated against the above mentioned two leaders, wherever the same have not been instituted so far," the order said.
It also said, "No permission should be granted for holding public meetings, public processions, public rallies, road shows, etc., by the district administration authorities, where the above two leaders are expected or likely to participate."
The EC also directed the chief secretary to ensure compliance of its orders by 5 pm of April 12.
The poll body directed the authorities to take all preventive measures against Shah and Khan under the relevant provisions of CrPC to ensure that no act of commission or omission is resorted to by them which has the effect of prejudicially affecting public tranquility and law and order.
The EC said it has been observing with serious concern that Khan and Shah have been making highly inflammatory speeches during the course of the current election campaign for Lok Sabha polls.
"These statements are, inter alia, promoting feelings of enmity, hatred and ill-will and creating disharmony between different religious communities on the ground of religion.”
"Further, these provocative statements being made by them are highly prejudicial to the maintenance of harmony between different religious communities and also likely to disturb peace and public tranquility," the three-page EC order said.
The poll body said the statements and public utterances of Shah and Khan were made with "deliberate and malicious intention of outraging the religious feelings and religious beliefs" of people.
Coming down heavily on the Akhilesh Yadav-led Samajwadi Party government in Uttar Pradesh, the EC said it has observed that the state authorities have not acted with the required alacrity and even FIRs have not been filed, wherever called for, against the two.
"Particularly, no FIR seems to have been filed against Azam Khan so far and the Commission is of the view that the state government machinery is soft pedalling in taking required action against him so that his undesirable activities could have been properly and effectively checked," it said.
The EC said the speeches and public utterances of the two leaders are not only violative of the provisions of Model Code of Conduct, but also constitute serious offences under various provisions of electoral law and of IPC.
The copies of the letter to UP Chief Secretary have also been sent to the Chief Electoral Officer of the state and the Director General of Police.
With a flood of complaints against politicians for their utterances during campaign, the EC on Friday issued a separate order for all Chief Electoral Officers to ensure that such violations are reported immediately.
It has directed the CEOs to promptly respond to media reports about such violations.
It said organisers of the events should be asked to provide with two copies of CDs carrying unedited versions of speeches of leaders.
Image: Amit Shah with Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi at a function
Photograph: Courtesy: Amit Shah's Facebook page