EC defends issue of notice to three Karnataka ministers

The Election Commission on Tuesday justified issuing of notices to three Karnataka ministers on a petition seeking their disqualification as legislators.

Updated: Jul 06, 2010, 21:17 PM IST

Chennai: The Election Commission on Tuesday
justified issuing of notices to three Karnataka ministers on a
petition seeking their disqualification as legislators, saying
it was in accordance with standard procedures and the body was
not pre-judging anyone.

"We act according to statutory provisions and rules.
All the cases (against the three ministers) have to be
examined individually and on their merit. So we have to take
one step at a time. We should not judge or pre-judge anyone as
that would not be fair," Chief Election Commissioner Navin B
Chawla said.

He was responding to reporters` queries on the EC`s
recent showcause notice to mining magnates -- Tourism Minister
G Janardhana Reddy and his brother Revenue Minister G
Karunakara Reddy -- and their associate Health Minister B
Sreeramulu.

The EC action came after Karnataka Governor H R
Bhardwaj last month forwarded a petition by Congress MLC K C
Kondaiah seeking disqualification, charging that as ministers,
there was a conflict of interest with them having business
interests in mining in Karnataka and Andhra Pradesh.

"We got a reference from the governor and whenever we
get a reference from the president or governor in relation to
office of profit then it is standard procedure on our part to
issue a show cause notice asking what do you have to say. That
has been sent and I think its returnable by 15th of this
month. We will see what they have to say," Chawla said.

Denying that they come under the office of profit
clause, Karunakara Reddy claimed there was "a pre-planned
conspiracy by some to trouble them".

He had also said they were consulting legal experts
and would comply with the EC deadline for their replies.

Chawla also cautioned state governments against
withdrawing cases filed for violation of poll code.

"We will not permit any state government, by executive
order, withdraw a case. If a case has been registered during
elections on the behest of our machinery that case must find
its finality in a court of law," he said.

The full EC team was here to review the ground work
for the next year`s assembly polls in Tamil Nadu.

Expressing concern over use of `money power` during
polls, Election Commissioner S M Quraishi said, "Use of money
power is becoming an increasing problem. We feel that Tamil
Nadu particularly has this issue...we are keeping a close
eye."

On his part, Chawla stressed the need for a better
reporting system for election expenditure of candidates and
said the EC was formulating means for a "tighter" control.

PTI