'Proposal on taking away EC's powers on MCC may be considered'

'Proposal on taking away EC's powers on MCC may be considered'

A proposal that would amount to taking away the powers of the Election Commission to enforce the Model Code of Conduct may be considered as part of the electoral reforms if political parties want it, Law Minister Salman Khurshid today said amidst strong objections by the Election Commission.

"There is no such thing on the agenda to my knowledge," Khurshid told reporters here about reports that the Group of Ministers on corruption was going to consider giving a statutory backing to the model code of conduct (MCC).

Such a move would take away complaints pertaining to code violations out of the purview of the EC and bring them before courts.

"As I understand, it was agreed that once the elections are over, there will be an all-party consultations on issues about electoral reforms, many of which have been pushed by the Election Commission itself," he said.

Khurshid said the all-party meeting will help bring out collective view of all political parties and help the government pass the measures "conveniently" in Parliament.

The issue of giving statutory shape to executive instructions issued by the EC was not on the draft agenda of the all-party meeting, he said.

"But if it is raised by any political party during the course of discussion, we will take it as and when it happens," he said.

He also said the model code of conduct had no "core link" with the issue of corruption. He said issues like governance and policies can be linked to encouraging or discouraging corruption.

Reacting to reports that the issue of giving statutory backing to MCC was on the agenda of the GoM, Chief Election Commissioner S Y Qureshi said it seems to be an attempt to curbing the powers of the commission.

Once courts get the power to adjudicate whether a politician has committed a breach of MCC, the matter will go on for years while the culprit will enjoy the fruits of power, Qureshi had said.

HRD Minister Kapil Sibal also said in Lucknow today that he was not aware of the agenda.  "I am on the GoM. But I am not aware of the agenda. It so happens that bureaucracy makes certain proposals and sometimes we discuss them while the others we reject them," he said.