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news details
EC overrules Ashok Lavasa again, he plans to skip meetings on poll code violations
5/22/2019 3:17:16 PM
New Delhi

Election commissioner Ashok Lavasa will continue to recuse himself from meetings to decide cases related to the model code of conduct (MCC) after the poll body on Tuesday decided in a 2-1 verdict that minority decisions or dissenting views will not be made part of the final orders issued in such cases.

At the full Election Commission of India (EC) meeting, which included chief election commissioner Sunil Arora and election commissioners Sushil Chandra and Lavasa, it was decided that dissenting opinions will only be recorded on files, “as it happened earlier”. The poll body decided these orders will be reflected in the files, but not included in the final orders as demanded by Lavasa, according to an EC official aware of the developments who spoke on condition of anonymity.

Lavasa, who stuck to his stance at the meeting and voted against the decision, said, he will continue to recuse himself from meetings “till the panel comes up with a set of instructions on how cases of MCC violations should be recorded”.

HT first reported on May 18 that Lavasa, a former finance secretary, had recused himself from all MCC-related meetings since May 4 until his demand for inclusion of dissent notes in the final orders was met. The EC official cited above said he would continue to skip the meetings in light of Tuesday’s decision.

“In the meeting of the Election Commission held today, i.e., 21.5.2019 it was interalia decided that proceedings of the Commission meeting would be drawn including the views of all the Commission Members. Thereafter, formal instructions to this effect would be issued in consonance with extant laws/rules, etc.” the poll panel said in a statement.

Disagreement over the procedure followed for deciding MCC cases erupted in the poll body following Lavasa’s objection to the process followed to give clean chits to Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) president Amit Shah and Congress president Rahul Gandhi.

In an interview to HT on Monday, Lavasa said he has “no axe to grind”. He added: “My concern is to have a system of disposal of Model Code of Conduct violation cases in a timebound, transparent, and non-discriminatory manner.”

HT also reported that Lavasa wrote three letters to the panel on the issue, saying that the manner in which his minority decisions were being suppressed was contrary to “well-established conventions observed by multi-member statutory bodies”.

Reacting to Lavasa’s demand, Arora on Saturday issued a statement in which he sought to downplay the discord within the poll panel and said the three commissioners are not expected to be clones of each other.

“The three members of the ECI are not expected to be templates or clones of each other. There have been so many times in the past when there has been a vast diversion of views as it should be,” a statement released by the CEC’s office on Saturday said.

Since Lavasa’s recusal has led to no MCC hearings taking place since May 4, EC is yet to take call on complaints against Modi for comments against former prime minister Rajiv Gandhi, against Rahul Gandhi for his comment about the government framing laws to shoot down tribals, and BJP’s Bhopal candidate Pragya Thakur’s comment describing Mahatma Gandhi’s assassin Nathuram Godse as a “patriot”.

“An Orwellian joke — by a non-disclosed dissent and a 2-1 decision. The EC decided not to disclose 2-1 dissents!” said senior Congress leader Abhishek Singhvi.
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