Union Law Minster Kiren Rijiju on Tuesday criticised judges for the language they use while criticising the Election Commission, reported ANI.
“In a democracy, everyone has the right to criticise but keep the language in mind,” Rijiju said at an event on National Voter’s Day. “The court can criticise the Election Commission but the judges should also think about the language being used to criticise.”
The minister also claimed that some people who were attempting to defame the Election Commission were actually trying to discredit the democracy of India.
Rijiju added that he wanted to speak at length in Parliament about the Election Laws (Amendment) Bill, 2021, which was passed in the Rajya Sabha in December, but could not as the Opposition had walked out in protest, reported The Indian Express.
“Recently, we passed some amendments in Parliament but due to so much ruckus and problems I was handicapped that I could explain [the changes],” he said. “What we are trying to say is that the hard work done by the Election Commission and our ministry [the law ministry] through cooperation should reach the people.”
Various High Courts had pulled up the Election Commission when Assembly elections in West Bengal, Tamil Nadu, Kerala, Assam and Puducherry were held amid the devastating second wave of the coronavirus last year.
While the country battled with a record surge in Covid-19 cases for days and hospitals ran out of beds and oxygen, politicians were holding election rallies attended by thousands with little evidence of masks or physical distancing.
Nowhere was this more evident than West Bengal, where Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Union Home Minister Amit Shah had held huge rallies till the Election Commission finally banned all roadshows and limited gatherings to 500 people, just a week before voting was to end.
The poll panel’s announcement to ban rallies had come hours after the Calcutta High Court expressed disappointment at the way elections were being conducted. The court had said it was “unable to reconcile with the fact” that the Election Commission had failed to take any steps beyond “issuing curriculars” to tackle the surge of coronavirus infections in West Bengal.
The Madras High Court had said that the poll panel should be booked on charges of murder for allowing rallies to continue in poll-bound states.
“Your institution is singularly responsible for the second wave of the pandemic,” a bench of Chief Justice Sanjib Banerjee and Justice Senthilkumar Ramamoorthy had told the Election Commission.
This year, for the Assembly elections in Punjab, Goa, Uttarakhand, Uttar Pradesh and Manipur, the poll panel has banned political parties from conducting physical rallies. They were first banned till January 15 but the ban has been extended till January 31.
In its January 22 order on the campaigning, the Election Commission also said that since the list of candidates that are contesting in the phase one of elections will be finalised on January 27, parties have been allowed to conduct public meetings in designated open spaces from January 28 to February 8.
The participants limit at these events has been capped at 500 or at 50% of the ground’s capacity, whichever is lesser.
Ten persons, excluding security personnel, have been allowed undertake door-to-door campaigns.
For indoor meetings, not more than 300 participants or 50% of the hall’s capacity are allowed.