The Election Commission has refused to share details of alleged Model Code of Conduct violations by Prime Minister Narendra Modi and other political leaders during the General Elections, PTI reported on Monday.
The electoral body, in its response to a right to information query filed by the news agency, said it cannot disclose details of poll code violations and information about clearances given to politicians as they would unevenly divert its resources. The commission also refused to provide copies of dissent notes submitted by Election Commissioner Ashok Lavasa when Modi and Bharatiya Janata Party President Amit Shah were cleared of Model Code of Conduct violations.
“It is informed that complaints of violation of Model Code of Conduct are dealt in the concerned territorial sections,” the commission said in its response. “The information sought by you is not available in the compiled form and compilation of the same will disproportionately divert the resources. In this regard, you may refer to Section 7(9) of the RTI Act, 2005.”
According to the section, “an information shall ordinarily be provided in the form in which it is sought unless it would disproportionately divert the resources of the public authority or would be detrimental to the safety or preservation of the record in question”.
The Election Commission was also requested to provide information about each complaint, provide copies of minutes of meetings in which the final decisions were taken, along with the details of Lavasa’s dissents.
In May, Lavasa had recused himself from the electoral body’s meetings, claiming that “minority decisions were going unrecorded”. Lavasa claimed to have opposed five clearances that the poll panel had given to Modi and Amit Shah.
Among the prime minister’s speeches that came under the poll panel’s scanner was the one he gave in Maharashtra’s Wardha district on April 1. In the speech, Modi claimed that Congress President Rahul Gandhi had been forced to contest the Lok Sabha elections from Wayanad in Kerala because of its sizeable Muslim population. The commission also looked into the prime minister’ speech in Latur district, where he invoked the Balakot airstrikes while appealing to first-time voters.
On May 29, Chief Election Commissioner Sunil Arora said Lavasa could have aired his differences with the poll panel’s decisions after the Lok Sabha elections.