Congress spokesperson Randeep Singh Surjewala (left) with party president Rahul Gandhi (Twitter/@rssurjewala)
The Congress on Saturday slammed the Narendra Modi government over Election Commissioner Ashok Lavasa reportedly recusing himself from EC meetings to discuss Model Code of Conduct violations, saying that erosion of institutional integrity is the hallmark of the ruling regime.
Reacting to the report, Congress spokesperson Randeep Singh Surjewala said, “Erosion of Institutional Integrity is the hallmark of Modi Govt! SC Judges going public, RBI Guv’s resigning CBI Director getting removed CVC giving vacuous reports Now Dividing Election Commission! Will EC save the embarrassment by recording Sh Lavasa’s dissent notes?”
In a series of attacking tweets, the Congress spokesperson termed Lavasa’s recusation “Another Dark Day for Democracy” and gave Election Commission a new synonym – “Election Omission”.
The disagreement over the Election Commission’s clean chit to Prime Minister Narendra Modi and BJP president Amit Shah for their alleged violation of the Model Code of Conduct (MCC) broke open a rift among the election commissioners with Ashok Lavasa recusing himself from all the meetings to discuss poll code issues. Lavasa claimed that minority decisions taken by him in several cases were supressed by the commission.
"Minority decisions recorded by me in several cases continue to be suppressed in a manner contrary to well-established conventions observed by multi-member statutory bodies," Mr Lavasa wrote to the Chief Election Commissioner on May 16. "...It appears futile for me to participate in the deliberations of the commission until its lawful functioning is restored in terms of including the minority decisions recorded by me," NDTV quoted Lavasa as saying.
After Lavasa’s protest, Chief Election Commissioner Sunil Arora called a meeting with him. Arora reportedly said that minority decisions can only be recorded in quasi-judicial proceedings and the decision to give clean chits in poll code violations were not quasi-judicial proceedings.
On May 3, the Election Commission had cleared Modi and Shah of all the charges of poll code violations. The decision was met with severe criticism and the Opposition parties had accused the poll body of acting under the influence of the central government.
The 'full Commission' which takes such decisions comprises Chief Election Commissioner Sunil Arora and fellow election commissioners Ashok Lavasa and Sushil Chandra.
As per the Election Commission (Conditions of Service of Election Commissioners and Transaction of Business) Act, 1991, if the Chief Election Commissioner and other Election Commissioners differ in opinion on any matter, such matter shall be decided according to the opinion of the majority.
The Commission transacts its business by holding regular meetings and by circulation of papers. All Election Commissioners have equal say in the decision making of the Commission.
(With inputs from agencies)