Lavasa's demand for recording dissenting views rejected

The dissent notes and minority views would remain part of records as it is the case now, the Election Commission (EC) said in a statement. PTI File photo

The Election Commission on Tuesday turned down its member Ashok Lavasa's demand for putting on record and making public the minority dissenting opinion expressed within itself while deciding on complaints about violation of poll-code by the politicians during campaign.

A meeting of the EC at its headquarters in Nirvachan Sadan in New Delhi ended with Lavasa's demand being rejected by Chief Election Commissioner Sunil Arora and the other Election Commissioner Sushil Chandra by 2-1 majority. The commission decided that it would stick to the practice of putting on record the views of all its members on the proceedings of its meeting, while its orders would continue to reflect only the views of the majority. 

“In the meeting of the Election Commission held today regarding the issue of Model Code of Conduct, it was decided that proceedings of the commission’s meetings would be drawn, including the views of all the commission members. Thereafter, formal instructions to this effect would be issued in consonance with extant laws and rules,” an EC official said after the meeting.

The EC's decision came after Lavasa wrote several letters to Arora, protesting over his dissenting views on alleged violation of the Model Code of Conduct going unrecorded and not being mentioned on the orders of the commission. He also conveyed to the CEC that he would take part in the meetings of the commission only after dissent notes and minority decisions were included in the orders of the poll-panel.

Lavasa disagreed with Arora and Chandra on several decisions of the commission on alleged violation of the MCC and the advisories of the poll-panel by Prime Minister and the Bharatiya Janata Party president Amit Shah. The EC ended up giving clean chits to Modi and Shah on all cases of alleged violation of the MCC by Modi and Shah, despite dissenting minority views of Lavasa.

The rift within the EC over clean chits to Modi and Shah in cases of alleged violation of the MCC reached a flashpoint with Lavasa's letter to Arora coming to public domain just a day before the final phase of polling for the Lok Sabha elections on Sunday. Arora issued a statement terming the controversy as “ill-timed”, “unsavoury” and “avoidable”. He also argued against making differences within the commission public.

Lavasa sent his first letter to Arora on May 4 stressing need for the EC to ensure greater transparency, while deciding on cases of alleged violation of the MCC during electioneering. He again wrote to the CEC on May 10 and May 14. He finally wrote to the CEC on May 16, conveying that he was being forced to stay away from the meetings of the full commission since minority views were not being recorded. He also wrote that he might take recourse to other measures aimed at restoring the lawful functioning of the commission in terms of recording minority decisions.

He, however, attended the meeting with the Arora and Chandra on Tuesday.

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