The Congress on Wednesday said the Election Commission’s decision to reject commissioner Ashok Lavasa’s demand of including dissent notes in the final orders by the poll panel was a “constitutional travesty”.
Congress spokesperson Randeep Singh Surjewala tweeted: “ECI wants to set a new precedent of ‘dark secrets’ & ‘secluded chambers’ in doing its constitutional duties. If CEC [chief election commissioner] can’t play fair in its functioning, can it play fair in ensuring a free & fair election?”
Surjewala’s comments came a day after the Election Commission decided that dissenting views in cases of deliberations on Model Code of Conduct violations would not be made public. The commission said dissent notes will only be included in internal files, which has been the practice.
The matter came up before the “full commission” on Tuesday 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.
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”.