- PM Modi announced a successful test of anti-satellite weapon on Wednesday
- The opposition alleged that the PM's speech violated the election code
- Committee says PM Modi didn't violate provision of "party in power"
Prime Minister Narendra Modi did not break the Model Code of Conduct with his televised address to the nation on Wednesday announcing a successful test of India's anti-satellite weapon, the Election Commission said on Friday.
The Election Commission took the decision based on the report of a committee of officers which found that the prime minister did not violate the provision of ''party in power'' in the poll code.
"The committee has reached the conclusion that the MCC provision regarding misuse of official mass media as contained in Para (IV) of Part VII of Model Code of Conduct, quoted above, is not attracted in the instant case," a statement by the Election Commission said.
In his speech to the nation, PM Modi had announced the successful test-firing of India's anti-satellite (ASAT) missile, Mission Shakti, and highlighted the government's efforts to strengthen national security. The opposition alleged the Prime Minister's speech violated the election code - in place since the polls were announced earlier this month - as it could influence voters in the middle of the campaign.
The model code is a series of dos and don'ts for the government and political parties, which comes into effect as soon as the elections are announced.
Sources in the commission had initially said no permission was required for announcements linked to national security.
But after complaints from several parties, sources said officials have sought a transcript of the Prime Minister's speech from national broadcaster Doordarshan and a panel has been formed to examine it. The election watchdog on Friday said it was studying the announcement.
According to the commission's model code of conduct for elections, the party in power cannot use public money to publicise achievements ahead of elections. "Issue of advertisement at the cost of public exchequer in the newspapers and other media and the misuse of official mass media during the election period for partisan coverage of political news and publicity regarding achievements with a view to furthering the prospects of the party in power shall be scrupulously avoided," it says.
Opposition leaders from across party lines had accused PM Modi of using government machinery to advertise "Mission Shakti" and appropriate an achievement by the country's space scientists and the Defence Research and Development Organisation. While Mamata Banerjee dubbed it "another limitless drama", Rahul Gandhi wished PM Modi "a very happy World Theatre Day".
An anti-satellite weapon system or ASAT can severely cripple enemy communications and reconnaissance systems during war, and blind the entire military of an enemy force.