Rejecting the demand of its officer Ashok Lavasa, the Election Commission on Tuesday ruled that dissent and minority views by election commissioners in cases of model code violations would not be recorded in the final orders of the poll watchdog and made public.
The full commission comprises Chief Election Commissioner Sunil Arora and fellow commissioners Lavasa and Sushil Chandra.
“In the meeting of the Election Commission held today regarding the issue of Model Code of Conduct, it was interalia decided that proceedings of the commission’s meetings would be drawn, including the views of all the commission members. Thereafter, formal instructions to this effect would be issued in consonance with extant laws/rules, etc,” the Election Commission said in a statement.
Election Commissioner Ashok Lavasa has recused from meetings on violations of the Model Code of Conduct (MCC) in protest over his minority decisions going unrecorded in the Commission’s final orders.
Lavasa had informed Arora of his decision on May 16, after his suggestion, dated May 4, on recording his dissent in EC orders on MCC violations and two subsequent reminders on May 10 and May 14 went unheeded.
The Indian Express earlier 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.
Calling Lavasa’s recusal “unsavoury” and an “avoidable controversy”, CEC Arora last week had said, “The three members of ECI are not expected to be template or clones of each other. There have been so many times in the past when there has been a vast diversion of views as it can and should be. But the same largely remained within the confines of ECI after remission of office unless appearing much later in a book written by the concerned ECs/CECs.”
Lavasa, however, justified his insistence on having his minority view recorded in the Election Commission’s final orders. “If decisions of the Election Commission are taken by a majority and you do not include the minority view (in the final order) then what is the point of a minority view?” Lavasa said.
“All multi-member and statutory bodies have an established procedure of working. EC is a constitutional body and it should follow that procedure,” he further said.
As per the law governing the functioning of the EC, business shall, “as far as possible, be transacted unanimously”. Dissent is, however, provided for in the Act itself: “If the Chief Election Commissioner and other Election Commissioners differ… such matter shall be decided according to the opinion of the majority”.