The Election Commission today censured Law Minister Salman Khurshid for violating the model code of conduct by promising nine per cent sub-quota for minorities within the 27 per cent quota for OBCs,and asked him to not repeat it in future till the conclusion of Assembly elections.
The Commission has come to the inescapable conclusion that the respondent,Shri Salman Khurshid,made a new promise to a distinct targeted group of the electorate among the minorities…as a Union Minister for Law and Minorities Affairs. Thus,Shri Salman Khurshid has violated the model code of conduct., the Commission said in its order.
Khurshid was issued a notice for the violation in January after the BJP moved the Commission citing his reported promise made during an election meeting in Farrukhabad (Uttar Pradesh) where his wife is contesting as a Congress candidate in the Assembly elections.
Khurshid,in his response,had contended that his remarks were only a reiteration of the Congresss manifestos earlier and made in his personal capacity as the leader of the party and not as the Union minister.
However,the Commission dismissed both these arguments.
He (Khurshid),however,failed to show to the Commission any manifesto of his party where the party has made any announcement to the effect…, the Commission said.
A statement by the respondent (Khurshid) promising reservation of 9% seats,instead of 4.5% seats as announced by the Government of India,is undoubtedly a new promise during election period when the Model Code of Conduct is in operation, the Commission ruled,citing that neither the Congress manifesto and its vision document for the UP elections,nor the manifestos for 2009 general elections and all other subsequent Assembly elections in six states Bihar,Assam,Kerala,Puducherry,Tamil Nadu and West Bengal the Congress made any such promise.
The Commission also rejected the contention made by Khurshids counsel Abhishek Manu Singhvi that the said remarks
were made in his personal capacity,saying this argument was quite ingenious,does not hold water in view of the factual ground position.
In this context,the Commission also pointed out that Khurshids private secretary in the Law Ministry had sent an official intimation to district magistrates and senior superintendents of police of the districts concerned a day before the visit of the Union Minister of Law and Justice and Minorities Affairs,requesting that necessary arrangements be made for his reception,escort party,security,etc.,so that no inconvenience is caused to the Minister.
In addition,the Commission said,the District Congress Committee president too had intimated the returning officer about the visit to Farukhabad.