The Supreme Court directed the Election Commission on Thursday to decide by May 6, nine complaints of the Congress party alleging violations of MCC by Prime Minister Narendra Modi and BJP chief Amit Shah.
EC told a bench headed by Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi that it has already decided two out of the 11 complaints which were filed by the Congress party against Modi and Shah for alleged violation of the MCC.
Senior advocate Abhishek Manu Singhvi, appearing for Congress Lok Sabha MP Sushmita Dev who has filed a petition in the apex court on the issue, told the court that they have given 11 representations to the EC against the PM and Shah but it has taken a decision only on two.
“After about five-and-a-half weeks, they (EC) have decided only two representations,” Singhvi told the bench.
“After 40 days of filing the first complaint, we have come to the Supreme Court for a direction that the Election Commission should decide it urgently.
“The Election Commission must decide the remaining nine tomorrow,” he told the bench, also comprising Justices Deepak Gupta and Sanjiv Khanna.
The EC’s counsel said the poll panel had received representation on April 16 and the voting dates for the Lok Sabha elections were April 18, 23 and 29.
“The dates of polling were in close proximity. One day before and one day after the voting, the entire focus is on polling,” he said.
The counsel also said the EC has to get the documents in the representations translated and in the last three dates, the poll panel has decided three complaints.
“By Wednesday (May 8), we are likely to consider all these representations,” he said.
However, after hearing the submissions, the bench ordered, “The remaining representations of the petitioners shall be decided by the EC before we hear the matter again on Monday (May 6).”
When the counsel said that the EC be given one or two days more for this, the bench said the poll panel has time till May 6 to decide the representations.
The EC has given clean chit to Modi for two of his speeches — one in Latur last month urging first time voters to dedicate their votes in the name of Balakot air strike heroes and soldiers killed in the Pulwama attack, and the other in Wardha on April 1, slamming Congress chief Rahul Gandhi where he had also indicated that Kerala constituency had more voters from the minority community.
In her plea in the top court, Dev has alleged that “inaction” by the poll panel on complaints against top BJP leaders was “a sign of invidious discrimination” as also “arbitrary, capricious and impermissible” as it was destructive of the integrity of electoral process.
It has been alleged that BJP leaders have been violating model code of conduct during last four weeks and the EC has not taken any decisions on as many as 40 complaints of Congress party.
“Since March 10, that is the date on which General Elections, were notified, the Prime Minister, Narendra Modi and BJP President Amit Shah, specifically in sensitive areas and states, have ex-facie violated the provisions of the Representation of People’s Act and the Conduct of Election Rules and the process, thereof,” the plea claimed.
“It is in public domain that they have indulged in hate speeches, repeatedly used the armed forces for political propaganda, despite a clear prohibition on the same by the EC,” Dev alleged.
The Silchar MP said she has been constrained to move to the apex court to seek direction to the EC “to expeditiously take action on multiple representations/ complaints pending before the ECI” against Modi and Shah.
Alleging inaction on the part of EC, the plea said it has not been taking actions “despite cogent evidence” and exhortations to the EC demonstrated “abdication and indecision and a complete absence of justice, in ensuring a level playing field in ensuing general elections”.
“The inactions, omissions and commissions by the EC are in complete and direct violation of Articles 14 and 21 of the Constitution and which are impeding free, fair and unbiased General Elections,” the plea has said.
It also referred to the EC’s circulars prohibiting parties and candidates from using pictures of armed forces for their political propaganda and using religions.
The plea said that under the Constitution, the poll panel is the “watchdog of free and fair elections and is duty-bound to circumvent the pressure and ascertain that ensuing elections are free from any impediments in order to uphold the democratic sanctity and fundamental rights of the voter”.