EC’s clean chit to PM came amid dissent

Six speeches by Modi were cleared

Published - May 05, 2019 10:27 pm IST - NEW DELHI

Mumbai, 26/02/2019: Election commissioner Ashok Lavasa addressing a press conference in Mumbai on Tuesday. Photo: Vivek Bendre / The Hindu

Mumbai, 26/02/2019: Election commissioner Ashok Lavasa addressing a press conference in Mumbai on Tuesday. Photo: Vivek Bendre / The Hindu

Senior Election Commissioner Ashok Lavasa has given dissenting opinions regarding four of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s speeches and one of BJP national president Amit Shah. The full Commission did not find any violation of the Model Code of Conduct in the speeches by a majority of 2:1.

Mr. Lavasa, when contacted on Sunday, refused to comment on the issue. It is learnt that his dissenting opinions have been recorded in the files.

For stringent action

As reported, Mr. Lavasa had earlier written to Chief Election Commissioner Sunil Arora asking why his observations were not recorded in the order passed against BJP leader Gulab Chand Kataria censuring him on April 24. He is said to have recommended a more stringent action of registering an FIR and imposing a 72-hour bar on the politician from campaigning activities.

While Mr. Lavasa did not respond to queries seeking confirmation of such a letter, a Commission official maintained that in a non-quasi judicial order involving the model code, dissenting opinions were not included.

The Commission has so far cleared six speeches of Mr. Modi, apart from his interview to a TV news channel in Varanasi on April 26, observing that they did not violate the code and its advisories. The Supreme Court has given the Commission time till May 6 to decide on all the complaints lodged by the Opposition Congress against alleged hate speeches and misuse of the armed forces as political propaganda by the Prime Minister and Mr. Shah.

Explaining the legal position on the decision-making process, a former Chief Election Commissioner told The Hindu that as provided in the Election Commission (Conditions of Service of Election Commissioners and Transaction of Business) Act, any decision had to be taken unanimously, “as far as possible”. The same provision also states that “if the Chief Election Commissioner and other Election Commissioners differ on any matter, such matter shall be decided according to the opinion of the majority”.

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