Judges should think about language used when speaking about EC: Law Minister

Union Law Minister Kiren Rijiju.

Union Law Minister Kiren Rijiju.

Union Law and Justice Minister Kiren Rijiju on Tuesday said while the judiciary had the right to criticise the Election Commission of India, “judges should think about the language used”.

Mr. Rijiju, while addressing the ECI’s National Voters Day event here, said attempts to discredit the ECI were akin to attempts to discredit the Indian democracy.

“Those elements which try to discredit the ECI actually try to discredit the democratic process of our country,” Mr. Rijiju said.

He said there was space for “corrective measures”, but the way the ECI had handled challenges, including conducting elections during the pandemic, had left little to criticise it for. The Minister stressed upon the need for “coordination” between the ECI and the Law Ministry, while maintaining independence.

“I have told the judiciary team the same. The Chief Justice, the Supreme Court judges, the judges of High Court, that there is a life beyond files and formalities. There should be coordination. But we won’t interfere. In a democracy, it’s fine if someone criticises the ECI. There is a right to criticise, but there are limits to the language. If court says something, the judges must think about the language used. They should understand the situation the ECI works under,” Mr. Rijiju said, adding that it was “easy to pass comments”.

The Law Minister also said that the recent amendments to election law, including linking Aadhaar with Voter ID, would benefit new voters. He said he was unable to explain the benefits of the amendments in Parliament due to “ruckus”. He added that there was a need for further reform.

Also during the event, where Vice-President M. Venkaiah Naidu was to speak but could not due to a recent COVID-19 diagnosis, the ECI handed out awards to election officials and launched a contest for voter awareness. In his message that was read out, Mr. Naidu called for increasing voter turnout to 76% in the next general elections.

“In the 75thyear of our Independence, let us resolve to leave no voter behind and aim to increase the voter turnout to at least 75% in the next general elections…We, as a nation, must think and arrive at a consensus to have simultaneous polls to all the three tiers of federal set-up and move towards better governance by focusing our attention on all-round development of our people,” Mr. Naidu’s message read.

Earlier, Chief Election Commissioner Sushil Chandra spoke of the ongoing elections in Goa, Manipur, Uttar Pradesh, Uttarakhand and Punjab and said political parties had been following the COVID-19-related protocols. Election Commissioner Rajiv Kumar said the EC had several reforms at various stages of actualisation and the future of elections was filled with “dynamic possibilities”. In his welcome address, Election Commissioner Anup Chandra Pandey said this voters’ day, which was the 12th such celebration and marked the setting up of the EC on January 25, 1950, also marked 70 years of elections in India as the first elections were held in 1951-1952.

Among the awardees for best electoral practices were Tamil Nadu and Assam in the best State category. Tamil Nadu Chief Electoral Officer Satyabrata Sahoo received the award for conducting the 2021 Assembly elections with focus on IT initiatives and security management. Assam CEO Nitin Khade received the award for the conduct of the 2021 Assembly elections in the State that led to an increase in women’s turnout.

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Printable version | May 16, 2022 11:19:20 pm |