‘Selective amnesia’: EC rebuts ex-CEC Quraishi

NEW DELHI: In a rare war of words between the Election Commission and a former chief election commissioner who questioned the poll panel for not filing FIRs against hate speech in recent Delhi polls, the watchdog has accused ex-CEC SY Quraishi of “selective amnesia”, highlighting that none of model code violation cases he had himself handled as CEC, resulted in FIRs.
Quraishi, who led EC from 2010 to 2012, had in an opinion piece published in a daily on February 8, 2020, wondered why EC had stopped short of filing FIRs against Union minister Anurag Thakur and BJP MP Parvesh Verma under Representation of the People Act (R P Act) or Section 153 of IPC for hate speech despite finding them “guilty of offences deserving punishment” under Section 123 and 125 of R P Act. He, however, appreciated EC’s decision to drop the two from BJP’s list star campaigners and temporarily bar them from campaigning.
In a reply sent to Quraishi on February 13, 2020 — a copy of which is with TOI — deputy election commissioner Sandeep Saxena put on record each of the model code violation proceedings undertaken during Quraishi’s own term. “It would be seen from the enclosed list that no action was taken by the then Commission during this period under Sections 123 and 125 of R P Act 1951/153 of IPC 1860,” he pointed out.
“It is rather ironic as how far selective amnesia can mislead the readers,” it was further stated.
EC cited the nine show-cause notices issued in elections held between July 30, 2010 and June 10, 2012, coinciding with Quraishi’s term. While five notices were issued in 2012 UP poll, three in 2011 West Bengal poll, two in 2011 Tamil Nadu poll and one in 2010 Bihar poll. As per final outcome of these cases, advisories were issued in five, warning issued in two and remaining two cases closed. No directions were issued to lodge FIR in any of the cases.
No model code of conduct notices were issued during polls in Assam, Kerala, Puducherry, Goa, Manipur and Uttarakhand in the relevant period.
Citing the notice issued to then law minister Salman Khurshid for announcing 9% reservation for minorities within 27% OBC quota during UP poll, EC recalled that he was subsequently censured. Khurshid later reiterated the announcement, after which EC wrote to President seeking his intervention. Khurshid finally regretted his statements before EC, after which latter decided not to take further action.
EC also issued a notice to BSP’s S C Mishra in 2012 for his repeated references to Dalit-Brahmin political combination. Though Mishra did not reply, EC took a lenient view and merely hoped Mishra would be more careful in the future. Another notice went to former Union minister Beni Prasad Verma for making promises to Muslims, but after he regretted the same, EC did not press for further action. Even then Union minister Sri Prakash Jaiswal received an EC notice for threatening President’s rule in UP. Jaiswal claimed his statement was distorted and EC concluded there was no threat of intimidation of votes.
In West Bengal poll in 2011, CPM’s Anil Basu had made obscene remarks against Trinamool chief Mamata Banerjee. EC only conveyed its severe displeasure and warned him to be more careful in the future.
During Bihar poll in 2010, EC issued notice to JD(U) leader Sharad Yadav for making personal attack on Rahul Gandhi, only to advise him to be more careful in the future. The complaint regarding a personal attack by DMK leader M K Stalin on Jayalalitha during Tamil Nadu poll was also closed by EC.
Saxena on Thursday informed Quraishi of EC’s plans to publish a compilation of actions taken against model code violators in elections to assemblies and Parliament during the last 20 years.

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