New Delhi: Following senior ministers’ recent run-ins with the Election Commission over violations of model code of conduct, the UPA government has set in motion a process that is bound to ignite controversy.
As per a report in a leading daily, the Centre – led by the Congress party – has begun the process to provide statutory backing to the election code. If the government succeeds in its plan, the poll panel would lose the right to act on complaints of code violations.
The government has circulated what the report called “secret agenda notes” to be taken up at the seventh meeting of the Group of Ministers (GoM) on corruption, headed by Union Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee. The meeting is due to be held tomorrow.
According to the notes, the Union Legislative Secretary would address the GoM on providing statutory backing to executive instructions issued by the poll panel.
Once the code violations get a statutory shape, they would come under the purview of law and dealt with by courts instead of by the Election Commission.
Reacting to the development, Chief Election Commissioner SY Quraishi told the daily that the government’s move was “highly misconceived” and aimed at curbing the powers of the Election Commission.
Quraishi added that if code violations are tried in courts, the process would drag on for years.
Congress spokesperson Manish Tewari had recently said, “Without any disrespect towards the Election Commission, which we hold in the highest esteem... time has come, in a wider sweep of electoral reforms, to think about giving the model code of conduct statutory backing... The Election Commission should also revisit its own position on this issue.”
Tewari’s remarks came in the wake of the EC-Khurshid row over Muslim sub-quota remarks.