- Ashok Lavasa skips from attending poll commission meetings
- "...minority decisions are not being recorded," he wrote in a letter
- Poll body has cleared PM Modi of any poll code violation in 6 instances
Election Commissioner Ashok 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.
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.
"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.
After the letter, Mr Arora called a meeting with Mr Lavasa.
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.
The Election Commission on May 4 gave PM Modi a clean chit for a speech delivered in Gujarat on April 21, where he claimed that his government had kept Pakistan on its toes to ensure the safe return of captured pilot Abhinandan Varthaman. This was the last decision of the Election Commission on Model Code violation complaints as after that only notices were sent to other leaders.
Referring to Mr Lavasa's letter, the Chief Election Commissioner in a statement today said the three members of the election body "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 confines of ECI after demission of office unless appearing much later in a book written by the concerned ECs/CECs. I personally never shied away from a public debate whenever required but there is time for everything," Mr Arora said.
The first instance of dissent within the Election Commission - and the poll panel's alleged attempts to cover it up - flared up on April 25 over an order related to a Rajasthan BJP leader, NDTV had reported earlier this month. Mr Lavasa disagreed with the Commission on the clean chits to PM Modi and BJP chief Amit Shah. In all the instances, the Commission chose not to pass an order, pre-empting the need for dissent to be recorded.