Govt denies move to strip EC's powers

Govt denies move to strip EC's powers

Model code violations to remain under its purview

Govt denies move to strip EC's powers

The Union Government on Tuesday vehemently denied that there is any move to strip the Election Commission (EC) of jurisdiction over Model Code of Conduct (MCC) violations during elections.

“To my knowledge there is no such move. It was agreed that once the (Assembly) elections are over there shall be an all-party consultation on electoral reforms envisaged by the EC,” Union Law Minister Salman Khurshid said.

Khurshid was reacting to a media report published in an English daily that claimed that Congress – led UPA government has started working quietly on giving MCC statutory backing to bring it out of the  EC’s ambit. The report said that Union legislature secretary has been asked to make a presentation before the Group of Ministers (GoM) on corruption in this regard.

Khurshid, who was censured by the poll body for violating MCC while campaigning for his wife who is contesting the Uttar Pradesh election, said he is at a loss to know how corruption is related to the issue.

"I am a little bit surprised what corruption has to do with the code of conduct, which relates to a larger area of election procedures and processes. Maybe, it has some connection with governance or corruption but there is no core link with corruption," he contended.

Denying that government has any plan to curtail the powers of the poll body, the Ministry of Home Affairs said: “The contents of the media report are totally misconceived as there is no such move under contemplation of the Government or the Group of Ministers.”
The same view was echoed by Ministry of Personnel.

Chief Election Commissioner S Y Qureshi had earlier said that the poll body would “oppose such a  move” because it would be “highly misconceived” and “it will take away whatever teeth EC has” The BJP also said it would oppose any attempt to weaken the poll panel.

“We will oppose weakening of the EC,” said BJP leader Arun Jaitley, describing the Congress as a “party of serial offenders of the model code and don't like to be regulated by it.”

Denying the government had any plans to bring the model code under the purview of courts, he said as per the law of the land, the will of parliament will prevail to ensure free and fair laws and in its absence, the EC's executive jurisdiction is supreme.