EC Rejects Lavasa’s Demand of Making Dissent in MCC Cases Public
Election Commissioner Ashok Lavasa decided to recuse himself from meetings till his dissents on MCC were recorded
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The Election Commission of India on Tuesday, 21 May, decided by a majority of 2:1 that dissenting opinions in the model code of conduct matters will not be made part of the order. It will only be recorded on files, as happened earlier, reported The Hindu.
The 'full commission' of EC met on Tuesday to discuss the issue of dissent and "related matters". The EC also observed that minority opinion will only be recorded in quasi-judicial matters. The MCC violations issue is not a quasi-judicial matter.
The decision to hold a meeting came soon after Election Commissioner Ashok Lavasa decided to recuse himself from meetings after his model code of conduct (MCC) complaints became public.
When contacted, Lavasa told PTI there will be clarity, once the minutes of the meeting are drawn.
"Till the time there is clarity on the reasoning of the views, it is premature to say (anything)," Lavasa said and asserted "my view is very clear that transparency is important... minority view should be included and there should be time-bound procedures."
Lavasa had dissented on a series of clean chits given by the Commission to Prime Minister Narendra Modi and BJP president Amit Shah on their speeches during the election campaign.
Against the backdrop of Commissioner Ashok Lavasa recusing himself till his dissents on MCC complaints are recorded in orders, Chief Election Commissioner Sunil Arora on Saturday said members of the panel are not supposed to be “clones” of each other and divergence of views was natural.
In an unprecedented move, Arora came out with a statement on the differences coming out in open, saying the episode was "unsavoury" and "avoidable".
When contacted, Lavasa said the issue was an "internal matter" and he would like to offer no comment.
In his statement, Arora said that at the last meeting of the Commission on 14 May, it was “unanimously” decided to form groups to deliberate the issues which arose in the course of conduct of Lok Sabha elections.
Revisiting Clean Chit
After Lavasa's letter to Arora, the EC has decided to revisit its clean chit to the NITI Aayog and Prime Minister's Office over alleged violation of Model Code of Conduct, as per Indian Express.
The EC had disposed off Congress' complaint alleging misuse of the NITI Aayog by the PMO for gathering information ahead of Modi's election rallies there last week. The EC had said that it found no merit in the complaint.
ANI Report Contradicts EC Rejection Claim
News agency ANI, however, reported that the EC had not rejected, but rather accepted Lavasa’s demand of making public the dissent note in all MCC violation cases.
It was decided in the meeting, as per ANI, that all EC proceedings would be drawn after including the opinions of all the panel members.
'Proud of Lavasa'
Demanding a probe into charges made by Election Commissioner Ashok Lavasa, the Congress on Saturday alleged that eroding institutional integrity has been the hallmark of the Modi government and asked whether the poll panel has become “Election Omission" and a “puppet” in the PM's hands.
Several other political leader lauded Lavasa for his "integrity". Former Union minister Yashwant Sinha tweeted that he is "proud of civil servants like Ashok Lavasa".
Lavasa’s Letter to EC
In a strongly-worded letter to Arora on 4 May, Lavasa is learnt to have said that he is being forced to stay away from the meetings of the full commission since minority decisions are not being recorded.
He is also learnt to have remarked that his participation in the meeting is "meaningless" as his dissent remained unrecorded.
He had said that his notes on the need for transparency have not been responded to so he has decided to stay away from model code related complaints.
He is learnt to have written to the CEC on three occasions.
The EC's legal division had opined that dissent cannot be recorded on decisions as model code violations are not part of a quasi judicial hearing where all the three – the CEC and two fellow commissioners sign.
(With inputs from IANS, PTI and The Indian Express)
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