EC seeks suo motu powers to punish critics

Ministry of Law and Justice is examining a plea from panel

EC seeks suo motu powers to punish critics

The Ministry of Law and Justice is examining a plea from the Election Commission for more powers to act against those calling its credibility into question.

Having endured a barrage of charges by various political parties, the poll panel wrote to the ministry, asking for the powers to reprimand individuals and organisations making “unfounded” allegations.

Presently, the poll panel can only register a complaint with the police. Such baseless allegations would only degrade its office and result in erosion of public faith in the constitutional body, the panel argued, asking for suomotu powers to summon, reprimand and impose penalties on erring individuals and organisations.

“The ministry has received a letter from the Election Commission and we are examining it,” an official from the law ministry said.

The poll authority had challenged political parties to try hacking its EVMs following allegations by the AAP and the BSP that the machines were tampered with to favour the ruling party after they lost the four-state elections held recently. But the panel did not find the parties forthcoming to accept its challenge.

The Uttarakhand High Court recently dismissed a petition challenging the constitutionality of the EVM challenge, saying there is no reason to doubt the fair working of the machines.

Chief Election Commissioner Nasim Zaidi hinted at taking action against those violating the high court order by indulging in “unhealthy criticism”.  “It is the duty of the courts to preserve, promote, nurture and maintain the independence of constitutional bodies and to insulate them from unhealthy criticism,” the court had said, while rejecting the petition seeking a stay on the EVM challenge.

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