Sat. Sep 30th, 2023

ECI declines to tender information of Lavasa dissent note to RTI applicant

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New Delhi, Jun.25 (HS): The Election Commission of India (ECI) has declined to disclose information regarding dissent note by election commissioner, Ashok Lavasa on the issue of complaint lodged by the Congress party against Prime Minister, Narendra Modi. Modi had been told to be violating the election code of conduct during his election campaign.

In its reply, ECI has said that information can endanger the life of an individual. Actually, a Pune-based RTI activist Vihar Durve has filed the petition under RTI act requiring information related to speeches given by Modi in rallies at Wardha on April 1, Latur on April 9, Patan and Barmer on April 21 and Varanasi on April 25.
In its reply, the Election Commission cited Section 8(1)(g) of the RTI Act exempting the disclosure of information which would endanger the life or physical safety of any person or identify the source of information or assistance given in confidence for law enforcement or security purposes. Durve had also sought information about the procedure followed and the decision given by the commission with regards to these speeches. This information was also denied citing the Section 8(1)(g) of the act.
Lavasa had reportedly dissented on a series of clean chits given by the commission to the prime minister and BJP president Amit Shah on their speeches. As his demand to record his dissent notes in the EC’s orders was not met, Lavasa had recused himself from cases relating to relating to violation of the Model Code of Conduct. The ‘full commission’ of the panel, comprising Chief Election Commissioner Sunil Arora and members — Lavasa and Sushil Chandra — had deliberated on the contentious issue, after which the EC said dissent notes and minority views would remain part of records but would not be part of its order. “In the meeting of the Election Commission held today regarding the issue of MCC (Model Code of Conduct), it was, inter alia, decided that proceedings of the commission’s meetings would be drawn, including the views of all the commission members,” the poll body had said in a statement after the meeting on May 21.
In the meeting, Lavasa is learnt to have stuck to his ground, pressing for his demand to include dissenting views in the orders. Since copies of the orders are sent to the complainant and respondents, they become public even if the commission does not share it with media.