ECI under scanner

By Nagaland Post | Publish Date: 4/15/2019 12:11:20 PM IST

 Elections in India are turning out to be bitterly fought with vitriolic campaign speeches, tons of black money and manipulation of media which throw a big challenge for the Election Commission of India which has to enforce the Model Code of Conduct. The MCC came into effect when elections were announced on March 10,2019 and will remain in force till after May 19 when the last phase of polling. So far, the total value of cash, liquor, gold and other contraband seized during the ongoing electioneering is to the tune of around Rs.2500 crore. There has also been increasing number of complaints of violation of MCC in campaign speeches by politicians. Cases of blatant hate speeches by politicians are also on a steady rise despite the fact that all politicians are not ignorant about what constitutes violation of MCC. The credibility of ECI has come under scrutiny with people pointing out several instances of violations of Model Code of Conduct especially involving NDA functionaries. It may be recalled that a group of retired civil servants on April 8 wrote to President Ram Nath Kovind, expressing deep anguish about the erosion of people’s confidence in the credibility and the fairness of the Election Commission of India (ECI). They appealed to the President to ensure that the conduct of the constitutional body is independent, fair and impartial. The civil servants cited example of the launch of the NaMo TV being broadcast across DTH platforms, terming the response of the poll body “lethargic”. The letter mentions the instance when the Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath had termed the Indian Army “Modi ji ki Sena”. Yogi Adityanath continued with his communally divisive remark about ‘ Ali(Muslim)- Bajrang Bali(Hindu) during campaign. In response, Mayawati had asked Muslims to vote for SP-BSP alliance. The EC has failed to exhibit fair and bold action in responding to violation of MCC. The Supreme Court had on April 8 issued notice to the Election Commission on a PIL seeking “strict action” against political parties for religion and caste-based remarks made by their spokespersons during the Lok Sabha polls. A Bench headed by Chief Justice of India Ranjan Gogoi had asked the poll panel to respond to the petition by Sharjah-based NRI Yoga teacher Harpreet Mansukhani. This direction came after the EC counsel said the poll panel was “toothless” and “powerless” against hate/religious election speeches by candidates and political party leaders in violation of Model Code of Conduct. A senior advocate Sanjay Hegde, representing the petitioner, however, pointed out that the EC has ample powers under Article 324 of the Constitution to deal with hate speeches. The EC has to give a better excuse than expressing helplessness since it must first respond to complaints with a greater application of being free, fair and fearless. What complainants want is clear directions from the EC and not whether it has any power or not. If violators of MCC commit offence for the second time, then the EC should ban them from campaigning for the rest of the election. Those candidates who violated MCC in previous elections and who continued to do so in the subsequent elections should be barred from contesting. The EC should not be defensive about its powers but wrest the initiative to ensure that elections remain free and fair.

Launched on December 3,1990. Nagaland Post is the first and highest circulated newspaper of Nagaland state. Nagaland Post is also the first newspaper in Nagaland to be published in multi-colour.

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