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‘If You Don’t Include Minority View, What’s The Point?’: Lavasa

On 16 May, Lavasa recused himself from meetings of MCC violations in protest over inaction on his suggestions.

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Elections
3 min read
File image of Election Commissioner Ashok Lavasa
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'Full commission' of the EC will meet on Tuesday, 21 May, to discuss the issue of Ashok Lavasa's dissent and other "related matters". Election Commissioner Ashok Lavasa told The Indian Express on Monday, 20 May, it was the observations of the Supreme Court on poll panel's late response to hate speeches that instigated him to seek "transparent and time-bound" disposal of Model Code of Conduct (MCC) complaints.

The SC, on 15 April, had asked the Election Commission as to what action has been taken against leaders who allegedly gave provocative speeches during campaigning. The same day, the poll panel issued orders banning BSP chief Mayawati and Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath among other leaders for communal remarks.

On 16 May, Lavasa recused himself from meetings of MCC violations in protest over inaction on his suggestions. He also raised his voice against his dissent not being recorded in the Commission’s final orders.

“If decisions of the Election Commission are taken by majority and you do not include the minority view (in the final order) then what is the point of a minority view?” Lavasa told The Indian Express.

He said that all multi-member and statutory bodies have an established procedure of working. "EC is a constitutional body and it should follow that procedure,” he said.

After Lavasa's opposition to clean chits given to Prime Minister Narendra Modi and BJP chief Amit Shah on charges of violating the MCC, the CEC Sunil Arora called the row "ill-timed"and "unsavoury".

Lavasa said:

“All controversies are unsavoury. They seem ill-timed as they pose difficult questions that remain unattended. They can be avoided if decisions and actions affecting the people are perceived as timely, fair and non-discriminatory.”

Lavasa explained why he decided to recuse himself from the meetings on MCC matters and he said that the letter he wrote was a culmination of more than a month's interactions, a process that started in April.

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"The basic intent of that communication was to strengthen and streamline procedures of dealing with complaints under the Model Code of Conduct. The objective was to make procedures transparent, time-bound and spell out consequences for serious violations," Lavasa said.

“I am not saying that my suggestion is what it ought to be, but it (final decision on the issue) could have been determined through a discussion in the full Commission meeting,”
Ashok Lavasa

In a meeting on 2 May, it was decided that all the members will record their views on the issue on file.

"I recorded mine on 4 May. I sent reminders (for others to do the same) on 10 May and 14 May. Since no action was taken on the issue, I decided to stay away from MCC proceedings and meetings,” Lavasa added.

He said, “On 15 April, Hon’ble Supreme Court had made certain observations (on EC’s disposal of Model Code of Conduct complaints) and the number of undisposed matters were pending had accumulated. I wrote the note because I felt there was a need to systematise disposal of (MCC) complaints.”

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On his dissent not being recorded, Lavasa told The Indian Express that the all orders that spell out consequences of a violation are issued under Article 324. "By these orders we are restricting someone’s freedom of speech or freedom of movement. Therefore, the Commission should spell out the reasons why a decision was made and if one of the Commissioners doesn’t agree, that person’s view should also be included in the order," he added.

He said that the minority view is important even when a person is given a clean chit without finding any violation as one person does not agree with the closure of a complaint.

On the questions being raised about the EC being divided and the political parties using the row to their benefit, Lavasa said, he has nothing to do with any political party.

(With inputs from The Indian Express)

(At The Quint, we are answerable only to our audience. Play an active role in shaping our journalism by becoming a member. Because the truth is worth it.)

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