Commission of India Vs. All India Anna DMK  INSC 313 (12 May 1994)
M.N.(Cj) Venkatachalliah, M.N.(Cj) Verma, Jagdish Saran (J) Bharucha S.P. (J)
1994 SCC Supl. (2) 689
special leave petition arises out of and is directed against an interlocutory
order dated 10-5-1994 of the High Court of Madras made in
WMP No. 13629 of 1994 in WP No. 8973 of 1994.
the said writ petition, a political party contesting the two bye-elections in the
State assailed the constitutional validity of Order No. 3/8/94-J.S.II dated 13-
1-1994, made by the Election Commission imposing certain restrictions on the
duration for the use of loudspeakers mounted on mobile vehicles for the
election campaigns. The relevant and operative part of the Commission's order
which is in paragraph 3 reads :
After considering all aspects of the matter, the Commissioner, in exercise of
its powers conferred by Article 324 of the Constitution and all other powers
enabling it in this behalf, hereby DIRECT that the use of loudspeakers at
future elections shall be strictly regulated as follows :
use of loudspeakers fitted on vehicles of any kind whatsoever for
electioneering purposes during the entire election period starting from the
date of announcement of election and ending with the date of declaration-of
result shall be permitted only between 08.00 a.m. and 07.00p.m. No moving loudspeakers shall be
permitted to be used before 8.00 a.m. and
after 7.00 p.m. in any area.
If for the purpose of any public meeting or processions any loudspeakers which
are fully static are to be used beyond the said hours specific prior written
permission shall be obtained from the Government authorities concerned......
following reasons are set out as justification for the promulgation of these restrictions
political parties, candidates and their workers, supporters and sympathisers
use loudspeakers for their electioneering campaigns. These loudspeakers are not
only used from fixed rostrums but also used mounted/fitted on vehicles like
trucks, tempos, cars, taxies, vans, three wheeler scooters, cycle-rickshaws
etc. These vehicles move on all roads, streets and lanes and also go around
villages, basties, mohallas, colonies, localities with the loudspeakers
broadcasting at very great volume. This results in serious 'noise pollution'
and causes great disturbance to the peace and tranquillity of the general
public. The student community, in particular, gets seriously disturbed as their
studies are badly hampered because the loudspeakers start blaring from very
early hours in the morning and continue to do so throughout the day and till
extremely late hours ill the night.
an interlocutory application for stay made in the writ petition, the High Court
was persuaded to the view that there was a prima facie case made out and that
an interlocutory order of stay of the operation of the impugned order was
required to be passed. The Election Commission of India seeks special leave to
appeal against the order of stay.
have heard Shri R.K. Garg, learned Senior Counsel for the Election Commission
of India, and Shri A.K. Sen and Shri Ashok H. Desai, learned Senior Counsel for
the respondents. We grant special leave.
support of the order of the High Court, Shri A.K. Sen and Shri Ashok H. Desai
strenuously urged that the essential question is not whether these restrictions
are salutary and beneficial and promote the comfort, happiness and well-being
of the citizens in the locality but really whether the Election Commission even
with the widest amplitude of the reservoir of its powers contained in Article
324 of the Constitution, could be said to be the authority to promote and
ensure these otherwise well-meant measures of public comfort and well-being. It
is urged, for instance, that respecting the facilities for the student
community to pursue studies in a quiet and tranquil atmosphere etc., however
laudable and desirable they might otherwise be, the question is as to the power
of the Election Commission to appropriate to itself these police powers and
constitute itself the guardian of these values.
argument, in short, which, prima facie, commended itself to the High Court, is
that there is no nexus between these restrictions imposed with a view to
promoting public good with the objects and purposes of empowerment under
Article 324 of the Constitution. It is urged that these measures restricting
the use of loudspeakers mounted on vehicles are matters covered by existing
laws such as the provisions in the Police Act and do not fall within the ambit
of what can reasonably be construed as matters touching "supervision,
direction and control" of elections vested in the Election Commission.
7.On a consideration of the matter, we are, prima facie, of the view and we
abstain from making any final pronouncement one way or the other in view of the
pendency of the writ petition that though the specifications in the preamble of
the grounds for the need and justification for the restrictions are stated in a
manner susceptible to the contentions advanced for the respondents, the
plenitude of those powers under Article 324 in the matter of conduct of fair
and free elections, however, cannot put out of consideration the element of
public inconvenience caused by the election campaigns. This, prima facie, is an
area, perhaps, of overlapping powers.
it was argued that the model code of conduct itself does not refer to this
area. That again is a moot point whether Part 1(5) of the model code may not
take this matter also in its sweep. This, of course, will have to be considered
at the appropriate stage of final hearing of the writ petitions. For the
present, we are persuaded to the view that the interlocutory intervention of
the High Court cannot be supported. The prima facie position and the balance of
inconvenience seem to be in favour of the aspect of public good in a matter
which cannot be said to be unrelated to the area of the powers of the Election
Commission under Article 324.
interlocutory order dated 10-5-1994 made
by the High Court, accordingly, requires to be and is hereby set aside.
then, we cannot brush aside granting, prima facie, the existence of the power
of the Election Commission the argument as to the somewhat excessively
restrictive nature and scope of the exercise of that power. Shri R.K. Garg,
after some discussion on what might in the circumstances be reasonable
restrictions on the use of loudspeakers from mobile vehicles, fairly suggested
the time-restriction in para 3(1) of the impugned order which prohibits the use
of loudspeakers on mobile vehicles between 7 p.m. and 8 a.m. be modified to
read "10 p.m. and 6 a.m." The impugned order dated 13-1-1994 of the Election Commission, shall be read
first sentence of para 3(ii) of the impugned order of the Election Commission,
it was urged, should not be enforced against the Chief Minister of the State of
Tamil Nadu, as the perception of whose security requirements are quite
important and serious. Shri R.K. Garg, again, fairly stated that the Chief
Minister of the State of Tamil Nadu who is under the 'Z Plus' category of
security, shall remain exempt from the restrictions contained in the said part
of para 3(ii), and that she shall be entitled to address election meetings
beyond the restricted hours from the stationary vehicles equipped with
loudspeakers without the requirement of prior permission. The said para 3(ii)
of the impugned order shall be construed accordingly.
The appeal is, accordingly, disposed of in the above terms. No costs.