Inaction on the part of the Commission adversely impacts not only the ensuing elections but also affects the future of our democracy

election commission of india

To
Shri Rajiv Kumar

Chief Election Commissioner

Shri Gyanesh Kumar

Election Commissioner

Dr Sukhbir Singh Sandhu 

Election Commissioner

Dear Dr Sukhbir Singh Sandhu, S/Shri Gyanesh Kumar/ Rajiv Kumar,

Since the beginning of this year, in connection with a range of subjects crucially relating to the fairness of elections, I have addressed the Commission through a series of letters, expecting the Commission to take action in discharge of its mandate under Article 324 to conduct elections in a free and fair manner and conducting its proceedings in a way that inspires public confidence about its impartiality and independence.

Inaction by the Commission on my letters, perhaps casually relegated to its archives without any meaningful action, gives me an impression that the Commission is haunted by a fear of the ruling political executive at the Centre or influenced by a sense of subservience to it, perhaps for the reason that each one of you has been appointed to this office by the political executive, through a procedure that failed to conform to the norms laid down by the apex court. 


Some of my letters which are in the public domain can be readily accessed at:

https://countercurrents.org/2024/05/election-commissions-silence-inaction-delay-in-response-encouraging-political-parties-star-campaigners-to-violate-the-mcc-and-representation-of-people-act-to-the-detriment-of-social-cohesion

https://countercurrents.org/2024/04/yet-another-prima-facie-violation-of-the-model-code-of-conduct-mcc-by-prime-minister-modi-inaction-by-the-commission-encouraging-star-campaigners-to-defy-the-mcc/

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/2024/04/does-the-eci-have-one-set-of-model-code-of-conduct-requirements-for-senior-bjp-star-campaigners-and-another-set-for-others/

https://countercurrents.org/2024/04/has-the-election-commission-chosen-to-become-a-willing-party-to-bjp-using-religion-for-votes-in-violation-of-the-mcc-and-section-123-of-the-representation-of-the-people-act/

https://thewire.in/government/take-expert-opinion-on-evms-safety-implement-safeguards-e-a-s-sarma-to-election-commission

https://countercurrents.org/2024/04/prima-facie-violation-of-the-mcc-by-prime-minister-modi-at-a-recent-rbi-function/

https://countercurrents.org/2024/03/shri-modis-statement-invoking-religious-sentiments-in-tamil-nadu-prima-facie-violating-the-model-code-of-conduct-why-is-the-commission-hesitant-to-act/

https://countercurrents.org/2024/03/the-eci-should-not-only-freeze-all-amounts-received-by-political-parties-through-the-electoral-bonds-scheme-but-also-force-the-sbi-to-disclose-the-details-immediately-failing-which-the-commission-sho/

The letters cited above, and other correspondence I have had with you as a concerned citizen, cover a range of important subjects referred below, concerning the integrity of the electoral process:

1)The BJP has planted its representatives through the NDA government on the Boards of Bharat Electronics Ltd (BEL) and Electronics Corporation of India Ltd (ECIL), both CPSEs entrusted with the responsibility of manufacturing and supplying EVMs on which public trust has eroded and on the Board of the SBI entrusted with the operation of the infamous, illegal Electoral Bonds Scheme (EBS). 

2)A few political parties, particularly the BJP, are sitting cosily on thousands of crores of rupees received under the illegal EBS and it would be highly inappropriate for them to be allowed to deploy such illegal, possibly tainted funds in electioneering, especially considering that the fact that it was the BJP that received a lion’s share of those funds, and that party deploying the EBS funds in elections would disturb the level-playing ground to the disadvantage of its rivals. I emphasised the need for the Commission to freeze all such funds from use in elections

3)Though there is a Technical Expert Committee (TEC) on whose advice that the Commission seems to rely heavily on its questionable stance on the use of EVMs in elections, all the members of that committee are also co-owners with the BEL of the patent taken for the EVM-VVPAT system, raising questions of conflict of interest that comes in the way of the TEC being able to render independent advice and objectively evaluate the performance of EVMs. Compounding this is the fact that one of the members of the TEC has been appointed by the BJP-ruled government of Gujarat as a Director on the Boards of two Gujarat-owned PSUs and, as if that was not enough, also appointed by the BJP-ruled Central government as a Director of a national statutory authority in which the Union Finance Ministry had a say

4)There have been multiple instances of prima facie violation of the Model Code of Conduct (MCC) by Prime Minister Modi and a few other senior political leaders, involving invocation of religion for votes, unsubstantiated statements made against rival leaders and statements that tended to tear apart the fabric of societal harmony. Perhaps on the premise that the Commission need not take complaints from citizens like me, the Commission has not cared to act. In particular, till date, the Commission has not cared to act on Shri Modi’s statement in Tamil Nadu openly invoking religion for votes and his reference, rightly or wrongly, to a statement attributed to Shri Rahul Gandhi of Congress, further, Shri Modi’s similar statements in Assam, Aligarh, Hospoet and so on, on which the Commission has chosen to ignore. Such inaction on the part of the Commission leads me inevitably to a feeling that the Commission is either afraid of or deliberately unwilling to issue a show-cause notice to Shri Modi and others, which in turn casts serious doubts on the Commission’s independence and its ability to function as a Constitutional authority

5)Para 2.2.2 of the Commission’s Election Manual instructions of March 2019 recognise the fact that political parties and citizens cannot be expected to and should not be forced to routinely seek judicial intervention in matters relating to elections, especially when elections are in progress, as the judicial process is likely to take time and it would be desirable that the Commission should itself take cognizance of such complaints and act promptly so as to ensure that delay in action may not be allowed to upset the level-playing ground among parties and taint the electoral process itself. Contrary to the expectation that one has from such instructions, it is ironic that the Commission should deliberately choose to infringe its own instructions to the detriment of the public interest.

6)The objectionable statements being made by star campaigners cannot be treated merely as MCC violations, as invoking religion for votes and making slanderous and hateful statements against specific communities also amount to a blatant violation of the provisions of the Representation of People Act (RPA) and an outright violation of the relevant provisions of the IPC (and its successor legislation). The Commission cannot and should not pretend that it is oblivious of this and do nothing about such statements, leaving a free-for-all situation to arise and continue. In a way, inaction on the part of the Commission makes it a party to and abettor of such violations.

Let me remind each one you that, as a part of a Constitutional authority, you have the onerous responsibility of conducting elections in a free and fair manner, true to what the Constitution expects of you under Article 324, in a way that inspires public trust and elicits confidence of all political parties in an equitable manner. You cannot afford to ignore complaints from political parties and the public at large. You cannot afford to function in a non-transparent manner. 

I hoped and expected that you would act on my complaints with a sense of seriousness but your continuing inaction leads me to the feeling that you have no intention to do so. I believe that the way you have responded (or not responded) to complaints from political parties and citizens like me violates your own instructions. Thus, you have left no other alternative for citizens like me than to seek judicial intervention.

 

Regards,

Yours sincerely,

E A S Sarma

Former Secretary to the Government of India

Visakhapatnam

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