Chief Election Commissioner Sunil Arora today said reports of Election Commissioner Ashok Lavasa skipping meetings related to the poll code violations - as he was not allowed to record his dissent - are "unsavoury" and "avoidable". Denying any controversy in the internal functioning of the Election Commission, he said that "the three members of the Commission are not expected to be templates or clones of each other".
The three-member Election Commission consists of the Chief Election Commissioner Sunil Arora and two election commissioners - Ashok Lavasa and Sushil Chandra. The poll panel's rules express preference for a unanimous view, but also allow a majority decision.
"There has been an unsavoury and avoidable controversy reported in sections of the media today about the internal functioning of Election Commission of India with respect to the handling of the Model Code of Conduct," Mr Arora said in a statement today.
"The three members of the Election Commission are not expected to be template or clones of each other. There have been so many times in the past when there has been a vast diversion of views as it can and should be. But the same largely remained within the confines of the Election Commission," Mr Arora said.
Mr Lavasa has stopped attending meetings to decide on violations of the Model Code of Conduct over his "minority decisions going unrecorded", correspondence reviewed by NDTV finds. Some of his objections involve the Election Commission's clean chit to Prime Minister Narendra Modi in six instances.
"Minority decisions recorded by me in several cases continue to be suppressed in a manner contrary to well-established conventions observed by multi-member statutory bodies," Mr Lavasa wrote to the Chief Election Commissioner on May 16. "...It appears futile for me to participate in the deliberations of the commission until its lawful functioning is restored in terms of including the minority decisions recorded by me," he said.
"In the present circumstances, I am left with no option but to keep away from such proceedings. I may also take recourse to other requisite measures in respect of the above (lawful functioning of the commission in terms of including my minority views)," Mr Lavasa said.
According to the Chief Election Commissioner, only minority views in quasi-judicial proceedings can be recorded in the orders and the decisions on poll code complaints are not quasi-judicial proceedings, so minority views need not be recorded.
Mr Lavasa had dissented in at least six of the 11 decisions that the Election Commission took on complaints against PM Modi and BJP president Amit Shah for alleged poll code violations. The two were given a clean chit in all the decisions.
With inputs from Press Trust of India