Election Commission’s inaction on my letters pointing out prima facie infringement of the Model Code of Conduct (MCC) by the Prime Minister and Home Minister- Questions on the Commission’s role


Shri Rajiv Kumar
Chief Election Commissioner

Shri A C Pandey
Election Commissioner

Shri A Goel
Election Commissioner

Dear S/Shri Rajiv Kumar/ Pandey and Goel,

I refer to two letters dated 3-5-2023 & 4-5-2023 addressed by me to the Commission pointing out prima facie infringements of the Model Code of Conduct (MCC) by the Union Home Minister, the Prime Minister and others and their likely adverse implications for the integrity of the electoral process in the ongoing Karnataka Legislative Assembly elections. My letters are accessible in the public domain at https://countercurrents.org/2023/05/prima-facie-violation-of-the-model-code-of-conduct-mcc-by-shri-amit-shah-the-union-home-minister-in-karnataka/?swcfpc=1 & https://countercurrents.org/2023/05/prima-facie-violations-of-model-code-of-conduct-by-both-inc-and-prime-minister-modi-in-connection-with-karnataka-assembly-elections/

I have scanned ECI’s website to find out whether the Commission has taken note of my letters and acted on them at all but, to my disappointment, I find no evidence of it, nor have any notices issued by the Commission to the two senior public functionaries reported in the press. I am therefore constrained to conclude that the Commission, for reasons best known to it, has chosen not to act on my letters.

Under Article 19 of the Constitution and in accordance with Section 4 of the Right to Information Act (RTIA), the Commission has an inviolable obligation to inform the public on its own about the complaints received by it and the action taken. The least that the Commission should have done is to pass an appropriate order on my letters and disclose the same in the public domain for the people to see. By not doing so, the Commission has violated the letter and the spirit of both Article 19 and Section 4 of the RTIA.

I am surprised that the Commission was prompt in issuing notices to campaigners of several opposition parties for MCC violations, many of which are perhaps less serious in nature compared to those in the case of the Home Minister and the Prime Minister but failed to issue similar notices to the latter. It raises questions on the role of the Commission and its commitment to act impartially in regulating election campaigning in the overall public interest.

The Commission may take shelter from a general “advisory” issued by it to all political parties, as reported, “taking note of the ‘plummeting’ levels of discourse in the Karnataka Assembly election campaign, the Election Commission (EC) on Tuesday (2nd May, 2023) issued an advisory to all recognised national and state parties to maintain ‘the expected level of dignity’, particularly with respect to their designated star campaigners” (https://indianexpress.com/elections/election-commission-flags-plummeting-campaign-discourse-issues-advisory-8588235/)

From the events that followed the issuance of the above-cited advisory, it is clear that the Commission failed to act against those election campaigners who fell below the “expected level of dignity”, in a highly selective manner, raising questions about its non-partisan role. It appears that the advisory was merely a ruse for inaction against some and action against others, which is a matter of serious public concern.

From the selective manner in which the Commission has acted on the apparent MCC infringements by the Home Minister and the Prime Minister and others, the following pertinent questions arise:

  1. Does the Commission have one set of rules to deal with complaints against MCC violations by senior public functionaries like the Home Minister and the Prime Minister and another set of rules for others?
  2. Does the Commission stand in such awe of the two senior public functionaries that it is unwilling to act firmly and impartially against them when there are complaints of MCC violations?
  3. Is the Commission fully committed to conducting elections in Karnataka in a free and fair manner, as expected under the Constitution and in accordance with the election laws of the country?
  4. Has the Commission made any assessment of the likely adverse impact on the integrity of elections in Karnataka resulting from statements made by the campaigners of different political parties, especially by the Home Minister and the Prime Minister? Is not the Commission concerned about it?

As an authority that owes its existence to Article 324 of the Constitution, the Commission is expected to act independently in every respect to be able to conduct elections in a free and fair manner. The people of this country repose a great deal of trust in the Commission’s role as a non-partisan, impartial authority. When there is a feeling among the public that the Commission has one approach to dealing with senior public functionaries in authority at the Centre and another for others, it will erode the public trust in its role.

We have seen how some of your predecessors enhanced the credibility of the Commission by acting independently against the high and the mighty. I hope that each one of you who occupies the high office of the Commission today will ponder over this at least belatedly and restore the level of public confidence in its role.


Yours sincerely,

E A S Sarma
Former Secretary to the Government of India


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