The Election Commission of India decided on Tuesday that dissenting views in cases of Model Code of Conduct violations would not be made public, PTI reported. The commission said dissent notes will only be included in internal files, which has been the practice, according to The Hindu.
“In the meeting of the Election Commission held today, regarding the issue of MCC, it was inter alia decided that proceedings of the Commission meeting would be drawn, including the views of all the Commission Members,” the poll panel said in a statement. “Thereafter, former instructions to this effect would be issued in consonance with extant laws and rules.”
An unidentified Election Commission official said the “status quo” will be maintained, PTI reported. “Dissent will not be made public but would form part of EC records.”
The matter came up before the “full commission” after Election Commissioner Ashok Lavasa recused himself from the poll panel’s meetings on deciding violations of the poll code on grounds that his “minority decisions were going unrecorded”. Apart from Lavasa, the three-member “full commission” consists of Chief Election Commissioner Sunil Arora and Election Commissioner Sushil Chandra.
Election Commission officials had said that its legal department was of the view that the dissenting opinions cannot be recorded in Model Code of Conduct cases as they are not quasi-judicial proceedings.
Earlier this month, Lavasa had opposed five clearances that the poll panel gave to Modi and Bharatiya Janata Party National President Amit Shah in complaints of Model Code of Conduct violations. The commission has given Modi clearances in six such cases altogether. However, Lavasa’s dissent was not noted in the poll panel’s orders. Lavasa wrote to Arora three times to point out that the minority decision was left out of the final decision which are “contrary to well-established conventions of multi member statutory bodies”.
On Monday, Lavasa defended his right to dissent and said he would be a part of the meetings only after dissent notes and minority decisions were included in the commission’s orders.
Chief Election Commissioner Sunil Arora on May 18 denied any rift within the commission and said such reports were unsavoury. “The three members of the EC are not expected to be template or clones of each other,” Arora had said. “There have been so many times in the past when there has been a vast diversion of views as it can and should be”.