Orders don’t have to show dissenter views, EC decides 2-1

While Arora and Chandra said minority view need not be reflected, Lavasa cited Constitution to say EC decisions were more than purely administrative.

Lavasa has recused himself from MCC violation cases, saying his dissent was not being made part of the orders.
NEW DELHI: A meeting of the full election commission on Tuesday decided by a 2-1 majority that dissenting opinions will not be made part of its order though it will remain part of official records, as decisions were ‘executive’ in nature and not quasi-judicial.

“In the meeting of the election commission held today regarding the issue of MCC (Model Code of Conduct), it was decided that proceedings of the commission's meetings would be drawn, including the views of all commission members. Thereafter, formal instructions to this effect would be issued in consonance with extant laws/ rules, etc,” an EC statement issued after the meeting said.

Sources told ET that while Chief Election Commissioner Sunil Arora and Election Commissioner Sushil Chandra opined that the minority view need not be reflected in MCC related EC orders as per Transaction of Business Rules, Election Commissioner Ashok Lavasa cited Article 324 of the Constitution which made EC decisions more than purely administrative as they involved imposing campaign bans and even sought the party’s version before decisions were made.

Among the arguments made in the meeting against reflecting the dissenting view in the orders was a reference to Union Cabinet meetings which don’t reflect dissent. The example of the Comptroller and Auditor General of India was also cited, pointing out that it does not have a different view of the Deputy CAG in the report. Commissioner Lavasa is learnt to have countered this argument by saying it was an inappropriate comparison as collective responsibility governed the Council of Ministers and the Cabinet and there was no scope for dissent. He also said CAG was not a multi-member body, while EC was more like an appellate tribunal.

Today’s meeting followed a controversy in the poll panel over its 2-1 decisions on MCC violation complaints, with Lavasa dissenting in 6 cases, mostly related to speeches of Prime Minister Narendra Modi. Lavasa, thereafter, insisted that his dissent be reflected in the majority orders and wrote eight letters, between April 18 to May 16. In his letters, Lavasa also proposed that a mechanism be set up for time-bound disposal of MCC complaints after the Supreme Court queried about the delay in EC processing complaints against high-profile persons.The proposal, however, was not discussed at Tuesday’s meeting, ET has learnt.

Lavasa had also said he would recuse from all MCC related deliberations until his dissent was mentioned in EC orders and if his concerns were not addressed, he would consider taking recourse to other actions to ‘restore’ the ‘full functioning’ of the ECI. Arora had in a statement on Saturday, termed the controversy ‘unsavoury’ and ill-timed.
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