Upset over a series of violations of model code of conduct, the Supreme Court pulled up the Election Commission of India and asked a representative to be present in court on Tuesday, to explain its stand.
The lawyer for the election body, Amit Sharma, told the court that it was “toothless” and “powerless” against hate speeches when the bench headed by Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi asked what was being done in cases of blatant violations of Model Code of Conduct.
The top court will examine the powers of the Election Commission on implementing the model code of conduct tomorrow. Can the Commission punish those making hate speeches along religious lines during poll campaigns?
The court was hearing a plea seeking strict action against political parties, who use religion and caste during campaigns, to seek votes.
“What you are doing,” Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi asked the election body, on leaders violating the model code of conduct during campaigns. “If someone does something they should not be doing you should get into it…what is this about filing affidavits,” said the Chief Justice.
When the election body replied that it seeks a reply after issuing a notice, the court said, “How many notices have you issued and against whom?”
Specifically mentioning the Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister, Chief Justice Gogoi asked whether the action has been taken against Yogi Adityanath? The poll panel replied that the case has been “closed”.
The UP Chief Minister at a rally in Ghaziabad earlier said: “Congresspeople used to serve terrorists biryani, but Modiji’s Sena (Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Army) gives them only bullets and bombs.” He had come under severe criticism from political opponents and army veterans for politicising the forces. Even union minister VK Singh rebuked Yogi Adityanath, saying that the “army does not belong to any individual but to the entire nation”
Five days after his remarks the Election Commission told Yogi Adityanath to “be careful” in the future. A day after Yogi Adityanath got a notice from the election body, Bahujan Samaj Party chief Mayawati too was asked to watch out after she asked Muslims “not to split votes” while campaigning in Deoband.
Coming down strongly on the election body’s representative, the Supreme Court said, “Are you aware of your powers? We will get the Chief Election Commissioner here if you don’t answer the questions.”
At loss for words on the election body’s reply, the top court said, “The Election Commission says ‘we are toothless’! They issue a notice if someone violates model code…or uses religion or caste for votes…then an advisory of they don’t follow notice.”