Refusing to disclose under the RTI Act the dissent notes of Commissioner Ashok Lavasa on decisions regarding model code violations by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, the Election Commission has said the information might “endanger the life or physical safety” of an individual.
The poll body’s response was to Pune-based RTI activist Vihar Durve, who had demanded Lavasa’s dissent notes pertaining to speeches given by Modi in Lok Sabha election rallies at Wardha on April 1, Latur on April 9, Patan and Barmer on April 21 and Varanasi on April 25.
The Election Commission cited Section 8(1)(g) of the RTI Act, which exempts the disclosure of information that would endanger the life or physical safety of any person or identify the source of information or assistance given in confidence for law enforcement or security purposes.
Moreover, information about the procedure followed and the decision given by the poll watchdog with regards to these speeches was also declined by the EC.
On May 16, Lavasa had officially recused from all meetings on model code of conduct violations in protest over inaction on his suggestion seeking “quick disposal” of complaints and his minority decisions going unrecorded in the Commission’s final orders.
The Indian Express had reported that Lavasa had, on five occasions, opposed clean chits given to Prime Minister Narendra Modi and BJP President Amit Shah on charges of violating the model code during their campaign for the Lok Sabha polls.
On May 21, at a meeting of the full Election Commission, Lavasa’s demand was rejected and it was decided that dissent and minority views by election commissioners in cases of model code violations would not be recorded in the final orders and made public.
(With PTI inputs)