The Election Commission has written a letter to the law ministry, seeking the power to act against those questioning the polling body’s credibility through “unfounded allegations”, said a report in The Indian Express. The Commission has sought amendments to the Contempt of Courts Act, 1971, to empower it to punish anyone being disobedient or discourteous towards its authority.
The letter was written a month ago and the matter is now being considered by the law ministry. Currently, the EC has no recourse against persons or political parties who make allegations against it.
In the letter, the EC has cited examples of polling bodies abroad, including the Election Commission of Pakistan, which can initiate contempt proceedings against anyone who makes allegations against it.
The matter assumes significance since Opposition political parties including the Aam Aadmi Party and Congress, have claimed that Electronic Voting Machines were tampered with in the recently held Assembly elections, as well as Delhi’s civic body polls.
The Election Commission had held a meeting or “hackathon” on June 3 to disprove claims that the EVMs used in polls won by the Bharatiya Janata Party had been tampered with. But the event was boycotted by all parties except the Communist Party of India and the Nationalist Congress Party. However, Chief Election Commissioner Nasim Zaidi said neither the NCP nor the CPM actively participated in the challenge.
Calling the EC’s hackathon a farce, the AAP had invited political parties for its own such event. In April, Delhi Chief Minister and AAP convener Arvind Kejriwal had raised doubts regarding the impartiality of election commissioners AK Joti and OP Rawat, prompting the latter to recuse himself from all AAP-related issues in future. Kejriwal had claimed that the two election commissioners were close to the ruling BJP government.