CEC terms reports on EC Lavasa’s ‘recusal’ from MCC matters ‘unsavoury’

Mr. Lavasa recently wrote to Mr. Arora asserting that minority views be reflected in the final orders of the MCC matters.

In a sharp reaction to media reports that Election Commissioner Ashok Lavasa has recused himself from meetings on issues concerning the Model Code of Conduct (MCC), pending his demand for including dissenting opinions in the final orders, Chief Election Commissioner (CEC) Sunil Arora on Saturday termed them “unsavoury and avoidable controversy”.

As reported, Mr. Lavasa recently wrote to Mr. Arora asserting that minority views be reflected in the final orders of the MCC matters. He had given dissent notes in at least four cases in which the Election Commission of India (ECI) did not find any violation in the speeches of Prime Minister Narendra Modi and BJP president Amit Shah, by a majority of 2:1.

Not confirming if Mr. Lavasa has done so, Mr. Arora told The Hindu that no such meetings had been held lately.

Mr. Lavasa has not responded to a query in this regard.

In a statement, the CEC said: “There has been an unsavoury and avoidable controversy reported in sections of the media today about the internal functioning of the Election Commission of India in respect of handling the Model Code of Conduct. This has come at a time when all the Chief Electoral Officers throughout the country and their teams are geared up for seventh and last phase of polling, which is tomorrow, followed by the gigantic task of counting on May 23 ahead of EC.”

Mr. Arora said all these officials and their senior officers of the ECI headquarters had been working their utmost in the last six phases which, barring an odd incidence here and there, had been largely peaceful and conducted in a fair, free and transparent manner.

“The three members of the ECI are not expected to be template 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 can and should be. But, the same largely remained within the confines of the ECI after demission of office unless appearing much later in a book written by the concerned ECs/CECs. I have personally never shied away from a public debate whenever required, but there is a time for everything,” he said.

‘Issues raised will be examined’

Mr. Arora said that eloquence of silence was always difficult but far more desirable, which was for to see the election process through instead of creating ill-timed controversies. He indicated that the issues raised by Mr. Lasava would be examined by a group within the ECI.

“It needs to be mentioned that in the last meeting of the Commission on May 14, it was unanimously decided that some groups shall be formed to deliberate the issues that arose in the conduct of Lok Sabha Elections, 2019, just as it was done after the Lok Sabha elections of 2014. Of the 13 issues and areas identified, Model Code of Conduct is one of them,” he said.

An ECI spokesperson said: “It needs to be clarified categorically and unambiguously that this is purely an internal matter of the ECI and as such any speculation, innuendos and insinuations in this regard should be eschewed…a meeting had already been scheduled on Tuesday, i.e. May  21, to discuss this and related matters.”

Former ECI Legal Advisor S.K. Mendiratta, who worked with the poll body for about 53 years, told The Hindu that in case of a difference of opinion on MCC matters, the dissent note is recorded in the files and only majority view is communicated to the parties concerned through an order.

The dissenting ruling is made part of the order only in quasi judicial matters like the disputes related to the Representation of the People Act and election symbols.

Source: The Hindu

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