The disagreement over the Election Commission’s clean chit to Prime Minister Narendra Modi and BJP president Amit Shah for their alleged violation of the Model Code of Conduct (MCC) has broken open a rift among the election commissioners with Ashok Lavasa recusing himself from all the meetings to discuss poll code issues.
According to a report published in The Hindustan Times, Lavasa said that he will attend the meetings only after his dissent notes and minority decisions are included in the orders of the Election Commission clearing the prime minister and the BJP chief of poll code violation charges.
Due to Lavasa’s protest, the Election Commission has not held any meetings to discuss the MCC violations since May, the report, citing a person familiar with the matter, claimed.
"The commissioner had earlier sought to know why his dissenting note was not made part of the final orders issued by the commission," The Hindustan Times quoted the person as saying.
On May 3, the Election Commission had cleared Modi and Shah of all the charges of poll code violations. The decision was met with severe criticism and the Opposition parties had accused the poll body of acting under the influence of the central government.
After the EC clean chit, there were reports that one election commissioner, probably Lavasa, had dissented and the decision of the ‘full Election Commission’ to clear the prime minister was not taken unanimously.
The 'full Commission' which takes such decisions comprises Chief Election Commissioner Sunil Arora and fellow election commissioners Ashok Lavasa and Sushil Chandra.
As per the Election Commission (Conditions of Service of Election Commissioners and Transaction of Business) Act, 1991, if the Chief Election Commissioner and other Election Commissioners differ in opinion on any matter, such matter shall be decided according to the opinion of the majority.
The Commission transacts its business by holding regular meetings and by circulation of papers. All Election Commissioners have equal say in the decision making of the Commission.