NEARLY A week after former Chief Election Commissioner S Y Quraishi wrote in The Indian Express that the Election Commission should have ordered the lodging of FIRs for hate speeches made during the Delhi campaign, the poll panel, in a highly unusual move, has written to him pointing out that no legal action was taken during his tenure as CEC under the Representation of the People Act and the IPC for violation of Model Code of Conduct.
“Election Commission is planning to publish a compilation of actions taken against violators of Model Code of Conduct (MCC) in General Elections of Assembly and Parliament during last 20 years starting back from 11 February, 2020, when the results of General Elections to Assembly of NCT of Delhi were announced. A list of MCC notices issued and action taken by Commission during the period when you were holding the office of CEC is enclosed,” Dr Sandeep Saxena, Senior Deputy Election Commissioner, wrote in the letter.
“You may kindly like to peruse the same. 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 wrote.
The piece authored by Quraishi, which was published in The Indian Express on February 8 under the headline ‘A weak rebuke’, has also been attached with the letter.
“After the flurry of such hate speeches, I have been flooded with queries about the nature of the Election Commission’s (EC) response. I was asked whether the Model Code of Conduct is toothless or the EC is ineffective and whether these offences are also under the purview of other laws of the land. My answer is these offences violate not only the MCC but also the Representation of People Act (1951) and Indian Penal Code, 1860,” Quraishi wrote in the piece.
“The EC flexing its muscle outside the so-called “toothless” MCC and invoking Article 324 is indeed a refreshing change. In earlier instances, it often had to let the culprits go with a mere “warning, caution or censure”. In its notice to BJP leader Anurag Thakur, the EC cited Sections 123 and 125 of the RP Act. What is baffling, however, is that if the Commission had found them guilty of offences deserving punishment, why did it stop short of filing FIRs?” he wrote.
In its letter, the EC enclosed details of cases of MCC violations between July 30, 2010, and June 10, 2012, when Quraishi was CEC, and stated that only nine show cause notices were issued. It said that warnings were issued in only two cases, and advisories in five, and that two cases resulted in closure. “No directions were issued to lodge FIR in any MCC violation cases by the EC during the aforesaid elections,” it wrote.
Two of the instances mentioned in Quraishi’s article referred to remarks by MoS (Finance) Anurag Thakur and BJP West Delhi MP Parvesh Sahib Singh.
On January 27, addressing an election rally, MoS (Finance) Anurag Thakur repeatedly chanted “Desh ke gaddaron ko” and had people responding with “goli maaro saalon ko”. It roughly translates to “What should be done with traitors of the country? Shoot them”.
On January 28, in an interview to ANI, West Delhi MP Parvesh Sahib Singh said that if the anti-CAA and NRC protests at Shaheen Bagh continue, Delhi will face a “Kashmir-like situation” wherein protesters might “enter homes and rape sisters and daughters”.
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