Chief Election Commissioner S.Y. Quraishi has written a strong letter to President Pratibha Patil complaining against Union Law and Justice Minister Salman Khursheed for challenging the Commission on the “nine per cent sub-quota for minorities issue” even after being censured by it.
Mr. Quraishi sought her “immediate and decisive” intervention to ensure that the Election Commission (EC) discharged its functions and duties in accordance with the Constitution and law in Uttar Pradesh, where the Assembly poll is being held.
The President has forwarded the complaint to the Prime Minister's Office for “appropriate action.”
Mr. Quraishi, who chaired an emergency meeting with Election Commissioners V.S. Sampath and H.S. Brahma on Saturday and took the decision to write the letter after watching the Minister's challenging speech in the TV channels, told The Hindu that the letter was delivered to the President's office through a special messenger.
Mr. Khursheed, while addressing an election rally in the Khatakpur locality of Farukkhabad in Uttar Pradesh on Friday night, referred to the EC's censure, and said that he would pursue the line of his earlier announcement (on 9 per cent sub-quota within 27 per cent reservation for OBCs in jobs and education) irrespective of what the EC directed.
Mr. Quraishi, in his letter, claimed that the Union Minister “goes on to say that he would stick to his line, even if they hang me.”
The EC had found the tone and tenor of Mr. Khursheed “dismissive and utterly contemptuous about the Commission's lawful direction to him, besides the fact that his action is damaging the level playing field in the election.”
“The EC finds it necessary and unavoidable to turn to you [President] at this juncture for immediate and decisive intervention so that the ongoing general election to the U.P. Assembly is conducted, and EC discharges its functions, in accordance with the Constitution and the law.”
Mr. Khursheed's latest speech created a “disturbing situation” on the EC's earlier decision (censure). “The EC is shocked that instead of being remorseful about the violation of the model code, which carries the consensus of all political parties and the sanction of the Supreme Court, the Minister has chosen to be defiant and aggressive. This is unprecedented.”
The Commission felt that Mr. Khursheed's action (speech) could vitiate a free and fair poll in Uttar Pradesh.
“The EC is perturbed because the undermining of its constitutionally mandated duties has come from the Law Minister who has a direct responsibility to uphold and strengthen the EC rather than to denigrate it.” Hence, we find the immediate need to draw attention of the executive to the fact that the onus of holding free and fair polls falls on all organs of the State.”
The EC was quite concerned that the delicate balance of functions between constitutional authorities had come under a strain, because of his “improper and unlawful action.”