Not Correct to Take Steps That Can Overlap Legal Process: EC on Probe Against Politicians – News18


Amid the Opposition charge of being targeted by central probe agencies in the poll season, the Election Commission on Tuesday said it is committed to protecting level playing field but asserted that it is not correct to take any step that can overlap the legal and judicial process.

Several political parties from the INDIA bloc had approached the poll panel seeking its intervention in the alleged misuse of probe agencies by the government to target their leaders over graft.

Following the arrest of Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal by the Enforcement Directorate in a money laundering case linked to the alleged excise scam, the opposition parties had mounted renewed attack on the government for its alleged bid to silence their leaders ahead of parliamentary elections.

In a statement, the EC said it was guided by constitutional wisdom when presented with “live situations” involving political persons which have been under active consideration and orders of the courts based on criminal investigations.

“While the Commission remained unwaveringly committed to protection of level playing field and campaign entitlement of political parties and candidates, it has not found it correct to take any step that could overlap or overrun the legal judicial process,” it said.

The poll panel said though it is not obliged to do so, it has put in public domain, for the first time, its enforcement of the Model Code of Conduct (MCC) during first month of its operation, along with details of action taken.

The EC said its move will help address and stop “misgivings and insinuations” coming from certain quarters, “however small or limited”.

During the one-month period of the model code, 16 delegations from seven political parties met the commission to lodge their complaints on alleged violations of poll code and related matters. Many delegations met its chief electoral officers at the state level.

Nearly 200 complaints have been filed by various political parties and candidates at the level of EC and across states. Of these, action has been taken in 169 cases, it pointed out.

The total number of complaints received from the BJP were 51, out of which action has been taken in 38 cases. Similarly, 59 complaints were lodged by the Congress, with action taken in 51 cases.

Complaints received from other parties were 90, out of which action has been taken in 80 cases, the EC added.

The poll code came into force on March 16 with the announcement of the Lok Sabha election schedule.

With a month completed since the model code came into effect, the EC said it is “broadly satisfied” with the compliance of the code by political parties. The campaign by various parties and candidates has remained “largely clutter free”, it added.

At the same time, the commission said it has decided to keep under strict watch some disturbing trends and to keep special track of certain deviant candidates, leaders, and practices more than ever before.

The EC also underlined that while enforcing the model code, it has been guided by its mandated responsibility, legal premises, institutional wisdom, equality, and transparency in dealings and irrespective of status and influence of persons concerned and irrespective of political affiliations.

The poll panel also asserted that all political parties have been treated at par and time given to all even at short notice and their grievances heard patiently.

It listed out various complaints made by the Congress, BJP and AAP on which it took action, including lodging of FIRs against leaders and issuing censures to them for poll code violations.

The EC also highlighted that it took a firm stand on upholding dignity and honour of women by issuing notices to leaders of parties who made derogatory and offensive remarks against women.

It held party presidents accountable for leaders and campaigners making disrespectful and derogatory comments.

A total of 2,68,080 complaints have been filed on cVIGIL, EC’s portal for citizens to flag violations.

Of these, action has been taken in 2,67,762 cases and 92 per cent were resolved in average less than 100 minutes.

“Because of the efficacy of cVIGIL, there is substantial reduction in illegal hoardings, defacement of property, campaigning beyond permissible time, deployment of vehicles beyond permitted ones,” the EC said.

The Model Code of Conduct is a regulatory framework though without legal backing in strict sense, designed to ensure a level playing field and uphold the principles of ethical campaigning.

(This story has not been edited by News18 staff and is published from a syndicated news agency feed – PTI)


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