Plea against Bachchan's poll campaign dismissed

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Indo-Asian News Service

Lucknow, Nov 27 (IANS) The Lucknow bench of the Allahabad High Court Tuesday dismissed a plea questioning Bollywood actor Amitabh Bachchan's statement in an election campaign that Uttar Pradesh had a low crime rate.

A Ghazipur-based social activist, Brij Bhushan Dubey, filed the petition against the verdict of Uttar Pradesh's Chief Information Commissioner (CIC) Justice M.A. Khan, who earlier dismissed a complaint in this regard.

Upholding the decision of the CIC, the bench comprising Justice U.K. Dhaon and Justice S.S. Chauhan said the writ petition was being dismissed on the ground that Bachchan was not a public servant."Since Amitabh Bachchan is not a public servant, the information commission had no jurisdiction over him," the court held.

In the run-up to the state assembly elections in May, Bachchan appeared in the Samajwadi Party's advertisement campaign on TV channels, saying: "UP mein hai dum, kyukni yahan jurm hain kum" (Uttar Pradesh is strong, because there is less crime here).

The slogan was criticised and contested with statistics by many.

When the CIC received the complaint, it issued a notice to the popular actor who is known to be close to Samajwadi Party leaders.

The CIC had sought his reply, failing which he was asked to make a personal appearance on Oct 15. Bachchan did not comply with the directive and his lawyer questioned the CIC's jurisdiction over somebody who was not a public servant.

The CIC then dismissed the petition.

However, the petitioner then moved a writ petition before the high court and pointed out that Bachchan, in his capacity as a member of the Uttar Pradesh Development Council, had held an office of profit and was, therefore, answerable to the information commission.

The high court did not entertain the petition.