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Air India fails to respond to EC's show cause notice, poll panel expresses 'serious displeasure'

The poll panel wrote a letter to Civil Aviation Secretary P S Kharola, saying no response by filed by Air India to its notice though the deadline lapsed two days ago.

Air India fails to respond to EC's show cause notice, poll panel expresses 'serious displeasure'

NEW DELHI: Coming down heavily on Air India, the Election Commission (EC) on Tuesday expressed "serious displeasure" over the national carrier's failure to respond to the show cause notice issued by the EC for using boarding passes with Prime Minister Narendra Modi's photo on them. The EC also slammed Air India for its "lackadaisical approach" towards enforcing the Model Code of Conduct.

The poll panel wrote a letter to Civil Aviation Secretary P S Kharola, saying no response by filed by Air India to its notice though the deadline lapsed two days ago.

"The Commission expresses its serious displeasure over the non-compliance of the Commission's lawful instructions and lackadaisical approach towards enforcing the Model Code of Conduct," the EC said in its letter to Kharola.

In its letter, the poll panel directed the Civil Aviation Secretary to conveyed the EC's displeasure to Air India chairman and managing director Ashwani Lohani for "the lapse of the organization".

"The Commission has further directed that action taken against the officer incharge be reported to the Commission within a week," added the EC's letter.

On March 26, a show cause notice was issued by the EC to the Civil Aviation Ministry over the use of photos of PM Modi on boarding pass of Air India as it was in violation of the model code of conduct.

The Model Code of Conduct came into effect on March 10 when the dates for upcoming Lok Sabha poll were announced by the EC. The seven-phase Lok Sabha poll is scheduled to begin from April 11 and the counting will take place on May 23.

The EC had said prima facie Air India has violated the model code of conduct, and referred to clause VII of the code which states that "issue of advertisement at the cost of public exchequer ... Regarding achievements with a view to furthering the prospects of the party in power shall be scrupulously avoided".

The matter came to EC's notice after a boarding pass issued by Air India had pictures of PM Modi and Gujarat Chief Minister Vijay Rupani. On March 25, a photograph of boarding pass was tweeted by former Punjab DGP Shashi Kant in which there was photos of both the leaders.

(with PTI inputs)