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The Supreme Court today directed the Election Commission of India (ECI) to decide on the pending representations before it against Prime Minister Narendra Modi and BJP President Amit Shah before May 6.
The Bench of Chief Justice of India Ranjan Gogoi with Justices Deepak Gupta and Sanjiv Khanna was hearing the petition filed by Congress MP Sushmita Dev seeking a direction to the ECI to expeditiously take action on pending allegations of Model Code of Conduct (MCC) violations by PM Modi and Shah.
Senior Counsel Abhishek Manu Singhvi informed the Court that while eleven representations on this issue were made before the ECI, the poll panel has decided only on two of them thus far. Singhvi asked the Court to direct the Commission to decide on the remainder representations expeditiously.
The Election Commission, represented by Senior Counsel Rakesh Dwivedi sought time till Wednesday for the ECI to decide on the complaints.
The Court, however, directed the Commission to decide on all the complaints by Monday, May 6 when the Court will hear the matter next.
The petition filed by Dev, through Advocate Sunil Fernandes, contends that the ECI has been slow to act on multiple complaints concerning “frequent and habitual violations” of the MCC by Modi and Shah. As stated in the petition,
“It is in public domain that they have indulged in hate speeches, repeatedly used the armed forces for political propaganda, despite a clear prohibition on the same by the Respondent/ECI.
Furthermore, the Prime Minister in blatant violation of the MCC held a rally on the day of polling in Gujarat on April 23rd, 2019 i.e. date of voting in the third phase of the election.”
The petitioner has contended that multiple complaints have been lodged, highlighting violations of the Representation of People’s Act, 1951 and the Conduct of Election Rules, 1961 by Modi and Shah.
The slow response of the ECI on these complaints has been contended to be a tacit endorsement of Modi’s and Shah’s conduct, in effect giving them a clean chit despite MCC violations.
In this backdrop, the petitioner had argued that there cannot be two sets of rules – one for the Prime Minister and for the BJP President and another for the rest of the candidates contesting an election. Further, it is argued that such “deliberate and willful violations, when unaddressed by the Respondent, send a message of endorsement, not just to the offenders, but to all party functionaries down the line.”