Quint Impact | EC Examines Complaints of MCC Violation Against PMO
Election Commission gets 2 complaints of Model Code of Conduct violation by PMO, for allegedly seeking funds for BJP
Based on The Quint’s article published on 30 October 2020 on a potential Model Code of Conduct (MCC) violation by the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) for an alleged attempt to collect funds for the ruling political party Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), two complaints have been filed with the Election Commission of India (EC).
Rajya Sabha Member of Parliament Binoy Viswam, representing Communist Party of India, and social activist Sushma Maurya have filed complaints with the EC on 2 November and 31 October respectively, seeking “investigation and action if necessary if any violation of Model Code of Conduct has taken place”.
EC officials have confirmed to The Quint that they have received these complaints and are currently evaluating them. When asked what action will be taken by the EC on these complaints, we did not get any answer despite pursuing the matter with them for over 48 hours.
PMO Allegedly Collecting Funds for BJP
The Quint in its exclusive report revealed how the Prime Minister’s Office sent out email blast on 21 October 2020 through its official PR ID sampark. gov.in. The subject of the email was – “Rajmata was a decisive leader & skilled administrator, says PM; People in rural India get ownership rights of their homes…More in the newsletter!”.
When we clicked on this newsletter, we found seven articles on Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s work.
However, when we scrolled down to the end of all seven articles in the newsletter, we saw an advertisement saying, “Support those who put India first. Support BJP through Micro-Donations.”
When we clicked on the advertisement, it took us to another page saying, “Your contribution is a great way to express support to the BJP. It will enhance the determination of lakhs of ‘karyakartas’ towards building a New India.” And below this there were options for donations ranging from 5 rupees to 1000 rupees.
In this screenshot below, you can see a BJP advertisement. When we clicked on the link at the end of each of the seven articles, we were taken to a BJP political advertisement.
What Does the Complaint Say?
Rajya Sabha MP Viswam in his complaint to the EC has said:
“While such misuse of power and position is condemnable at all times, it becomes particularly egregious given that the MCC came into effect for the Bihar elections on 25th September 2020... The soliciting of funds for the BJP via the office of the prime minister is a prima facie violation of the MCC.”
“I hope that the EC take up the matter with all seriousness because they have authority and mandate to look into violations of Model Code of Conduct,” said Viswam to The Quint.
Social activist Sushma Maurya has demanded appropriate “civil as well as criminal action”.
She also said:
“It is also to be noted that the above mentioned conduct of the PMO official also comes under the definition of undue influence as defined under section 171 (C) of IPC and a criminal case is immediately required to be registered.”
Prima Facie Case of MCC Violation: Former CEC
Since the sampark.gov.in email was sent by the PMO on 21 October 2020 when the Model Code was in effect in Bihar, it seems to be a case of violation under Chapter 7 of the MCC on ‘Party in Power’, where it clearly says, “Government transport including official aircraft, vehicles, machinery and personnel shall not be used for furtherance of the interest of the party in power.”
Speaking to The Quint earlier, former Chief Election Commissioner SY Quraishi said:
We also spoke to a few legal experts to find out if this amounted to an abuse of the Prime Minister’s Office.
This is what senior advocate Rajeev Dhavan said to The Quint:
The Quint also wrote to the PMO seeking a comment about the advertisement but we have not received any response from them.
Click here to access the complaint.
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