Amid ‘insinuations’, EC details poll code action | Latest News India - Hindustan Times
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Amid ‘insinuations’, EC details poll code action

By, New Delhi
Apr 17, 2024 03:41 AM IST

To stress on the transparency that it said it followed, the panel provided examples of actions it had taken against parties and candidates.

The Election Commission (EC) said on Tuesday that it would not have been correct for it to act on situations involving “political persons under active consideration… of court proceedings or criminal investigations”, saying such a step could have treaded on legal judicial processes, as it moved to address growing criticism from political parties.

The Election Commission of India. (PTI)
The Election Commission of India. (PTI)

The panel said it had acted on 169 out of 200 Model Code of Conduct (MCC) complaints received since the poll code took effect a month ago, a disclosure it described as “first of its kind” exercise aimed at transparency so “that misgivings and insinuations at times coming from certain quarters, however small or limited, are addressed and stopped”.

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“The Commission is by no means obliged, but for the sake of its promised transparency, EC has decided to place in the public domain its enforcement of the Model Code of Conduct during the first month of its operation, along with certain details of action taken,” it said in a press note.

The note carried instances in which the commission acted, such as the action it took against Congress leaders Supriya Shrinate and Randeep Surjewala for their insulting remarks at a Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) candidate and the directive to the government to cease a WhatsApp outreach to citizens.

Read Here: EC bars Congress MP Surejwala from campaign for 48 hours over Hema Malini remark

The statement follows the INDIA (Indian National Developmental Inclusive Alliance) group of parties’ demands during their Save Democracy rally on March 31 that accused the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) of creating “undemocratic obstacles”, with some of the alliance’s constituents holding protests outside the commission’s offices, calling on it to ensure a “level playing field”.

The protests flared after federal investigating agencies took action against political parties and leaders, especially the Enforcement Directorate (ED) that placed under arrest Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) convener and Delhi chief minister Arvind Kejriwal in an excise policy case.

The panel appeared to address such concerns, though without referring to such misgivings directly.

“Commission was guided by constitutional wisdom when presented with live situations involving political persons which have been under active consideration and orders of the Courts based on criminal investigations. While the commission remained unwaveringly committed to protection of level playing field… it has not found it correct to take any step that could overlap or overrun the legal judicial process,” the panel said.

Read Here: EC says Maharashtra teachers can't campaign during LS polls, faculty protests

The panel said that it is “broadly satisfied” with the compliance of the MCC by political parties and the campaign has remained “largely clutter free.” It further said that it has decided to keep a “strict watch” on “disturbing trends” and keep a “special track of certain deviant candidates, leaders, and practices more than ever before”.

To stress on the transparency that it said it followed, the panel provided examples of actions it had taken against parties and candidates.

Among these was directing the ministry of electronics and information technology to halt transmission of “Viksit Bharat Sampark” messages on WhatsApp, which included a letter from Prime Minister Narendra Modi, following complaints from AAP and Congress.

It also said it had asked the Central Board of Direct Taxes to verify any mismatch in assets declared by Union minister Rajeev Chandrasekhar on a Congress complaint, took action against Shrinate and Surjewala for derogatory comments against BJP’s Hema Malini, and had a police case registered against BJP’s Shobha Karandlaje for her remarks on the Rameshawaram Café blast case.

Read Here: Cong files EC complaint over Modi's ‘Sultan of Tukde Tukde gang' remark at Mysuru rally

The total complaints received till Tuesday were 51 from BJP, out of which action was taken in 38 cases; 59 complaints from Congress, of which 51 were acted upon, and 90 complaints from others, of which 80 had been resolved.

Welcoming the poll body’s actions, Congress spokesperson Pawan Khera said: “We welcome the Election Commission being transparent on the MCC violations but we still have a lot of complaints and we can only hope that the commission considers them seriously.”

Strict compliance to MCC is must for strengthening democracy, BJP spokesperson Gopal Krishna Agarwal said. “The Elections Commission is the nodal agency for conducting free, fare and transparent elections. India is the largest democracy in the world and holds one of the biggest elections across globe. We welcome any actions by the commission to adhere to the process.”

The poll body also detailed other actions it had taken on its own, such as removing officials with dual charges as principal secretaries to chief ministers in six states and transferring the DGP of West Bengal from election duty.

The commission reported that out of 268,080 complaints filed on its cVigil portal, action was taken in 267,762 cases, with 92% resolved in less than 100 minutes on average, leading to a “substantial reduction” in violations.

Former chief election commissioner SY Quraishi said: The Election Commission owes it to the citizens to make this information public. It has always been in the public domain and the actions taken have always been announced.”

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