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In a major development, the Supreme Court today said that it will examine the scope of powers of Election Commission of India to deal with political leaders and candidates violating the Model Code of Conduct (MCC) and indulging in hate speeches and appealing for votes on the basis of religion and caste.
A Bench of Chief Justice of India Ranjan Gogoi and Justices Deepak Gupta and Sanjiv Khanna directed that a representative of the Election Commission be present in Court tomorrow. The direction was issued while dealing with a petition seeking action against political party representatives and spokespersons who make speeches or remarks on religious or caste lines.
This development came about after the Election Commission itself informed the court that its powers are limited when it comes to dealing with violation of the MCC.
The counsel for Election Commission stated that when an alleged violation of MCC is brought to its notice, it first issues a notice to the concerned person. If he/ she does not respond, then the Election Commission issues an advisory. In case of repeated violations, the EC files a complaint with the police.
“We don’t have any power beyond this. We cannot disqualify“, stated the lawyer for the Election Commission.
The petitioner, however, said that the Election Commission has wide powers under Article 324 of the Constitution.
The petition states that Section 123 of the Representation of People’s Act, which enlists “corrupt practices”, does not specifically include speeches made on caste and communal lines. Therefore, it is stated, the provision does not have the potential to ensure a corruption-free election process.
It is also contended that spokespersons and representatives of political parties who are not contesting the elections often make speeches on caste and communal on TV programmes, and get away with it.
The Court said that it will examine the issue and ordered that a representative of the Election Commission of India be present in Court tomorrow.
Read the order below.