A group of retired civil servants has written letter to the President Ram Nath Kovind raising serious concerns on the Model Code of Conduct (MCC) being violated by the ruling party at the Centre and Election Commission (EC) paying no heed to it.
The consortium, Constitutional Conduct Group in a 8-page strongly worded letter cited various instances drawing the attention of President to the violation of MCC by the ruling party and even questioned the credibility of EC for conducting free and fair elections in the country.
“The Prime Minister made a public announcement on 27 March 2019 about the successful launch of India’s first anti-satellite weapon (ASAT)… While the timing of the exercise is questionable, even more questionable is the fact that the announcement of the launch was made with much fanfare by the Prime Minister when propriety demanded that it should have been left to the officials of the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) at a time when the MCC was operative. The country was facing no immediate security threat that required the Prime Minister, who is an election candidate himself, to make a public announcement. On the purely technical ground that the announcement was not made on the public broadcasting service, the ECI held that there had been no violation of the MCC. We feel, however, that parading the achievements of a government in this manner after the announcement of elections is tantamount to a serious breach of propriety and amounts to giving unfair publicity to the party presently in government and that the ECI’s decision does not stand up to the standards of impartiality expected of it,” the letter said.
Citing another instance, the letter said: “Our group addressed a letter to the Chief Election Commissioner (which was also made public) on 26 March 2019, requesting the ECI to issue directions to withhold the release of all biopics and documentaries on any political personages through any media mechanism until the conclusion of the electoral process. While the ECI is still to respond to our letter, we understand from media reports that a biopic on the present Prime Minister is slated for release on 11 April 2019, on the day of commencement of the polling process. This, in our opinion, represents a backdoor effort to garner free publicity for a political person (and his party). In the event that this biopic is released even while the election process is ongoing, we contend that the entire expenses on the production, distribution and publicity of the biopic should be debited to the election expenses of Shri Narendra Modi.”
The signatories of the letter included Salahuddin Ahmad, S.P. Ambrose, N. Bala Baskar, Vappala Balachandran, Gopalan Balagopal, Chandrashekhar Balakrishnan, Pradip Bhattacharya, Meeran C Borwankar, Ravi Budhiraja, Sundar Burra, R. Chandramohan, Som Chaturvedi, Anna Dani, Vibha Puri Das, P.R. Dasgupta, Nareshwar Dayal, Nitin Desai Keshav Desiraju, M.G. Devasahayam, Sushil Dubey, Arif Ghauri, Gourisankar Ghosh, Tuktuk Ghosh, S.K. Guha, Meena Gupta, Sajjad Hassan, Siraj Hussain, Jagdish Joshi, Najeeb Jung, Rahul Khullar, Ajai Kumar, Arun Kumar, Brijesh Kumar, Sudhir Kumar, Subodh Lal, P.M.S. Malik, Harsh Mander, Lalit Mathur, Aditi Mehta, Shivshankar Menon, Sonalini Mirchandani, Sunil Mitra, Deb Mukharji, Nagalsamy, Sobha Nambisan, P.G.J. Nampoothiri, Amitabha Pande, Niranjan Pant, Alok Perti, V.P. Raja, K. Rajivan, Julio Ribeiro, Manabendra N. Roy, Deepak Sanan, N.C. Saxena Ardhendu Sen, Abhijit Sengupta, Aftab Seth, Navrekha Sharma, Pravesh Sharma, Raju Sharma, Rashmi Shukla Sharma, Jawhar Sircar, P.S.S. Thomas, Hindal Tyabji and Ramani Venkatesan.
Read the full letter here.
—India Legal Bureau