The Election Commission has written a letter to former Chief Election Commissioner SY Quraishi to tell him that a newspaper article he wrote last week was ironic because violations of the Model Code of Conduct during his own tenure had received no legal action. In his article in The Indian Express on February 8, Quraishi had wondered why the poll panel had not filed cases against politicians who indulged in hate speech ahead of the Delhi Assembly elections.
Sandeep Saxena, the senior deputy election commissioner, told Quraishi in a letter that the Election Commission was planning to publish a compilation of actions taken against politicians who violated the Model Code of Conduct in state or national elections during the last 20 years, The Indian Express reported. Saxena attached with the letter a list of instances of such violations during Quraishi’s tenure as the chief election commissioner, and the actions taken against them.
“You may kindly like to peruse the same,” Saxena told Quraishi, who was in the top post from July 2010 to June 2012. “It would be seen from the enclosed list that no action was taken by the then Commission during this period under Section 123 of RP Act/153 IPC. It is rather ironic as how far selective amnesia can mislead the readers.”
Saxena was referring to the Section 123 of the Representation of People Act and the Section 153 of the Indian Penal Code. The first one deals with corrupt electoral practices, while the second law deals with provocation with intent to cause riot.
Saxena said in his letter that during Quraishi’s term, the commission issued only nine show-cause notices – two of which resulted in warnings and five in advisories, while two were closed, but none resulted in any directions for the filing of cases.
In his article on February 8, titled “A weak rebuke”, Quraishi referred to a “flurry of hate speeches” ahead of the Delhi elections. He claimed that the offences violated not only the Model Code of Conduct but also the Representation of People Act and the Indian Penal Code, but the Election Commission treated them only as violations of the poll code.
The Election Commission had penalised three politicians for provocative utterances in the run-up to the Delhi elections: Kapil Mishra, Anurag Thakur and Parvesh Varma, all from the Bharatiya Janata Party. These penalties were limited to campaigning bans for a few days.