The Election Commission on Tuesday expressed "serious displeasure" over Air India's failure to respond to its show cause notice for using boarding passes with Prime Minister Narendra Modi's photo on them and the airline's "lackadaisical approach" towards enforcing the Model Code of Conduct.
In a letter to Civil Aviation Secretary P S Kharola, the poll panel said that Air India has failed to respond to its notice despite lapse of deadline two days ago.
"The Commission expresses its serious displeasure over the non-compliance of the Commission's lawful instructions and lackadaisical approach towards enforcing the Model Code of Conduct," the poll panel said in its letter dated April 2, 2019.
The EC said that its displeasure should also be conveyed to Air India chairman and managing director Ashwani Lohani for "the lapse of the organization".
The strongly worded letter said,"The Commission has further directed that action taken against the officer in charge be reported to the Commission within a week."
The Election Commission had on March 26 issued a show cause notice to the Civil Aviation Ministry over the use of Prime Minister's pictures on Air India boarding pass as prima facie it violated the model code of conduct.
The code came into force on March 10 when the poll body announced the schedule for the Lok Sabha polls beginning April 11.
The poll panel had said prima facie Air India has violated the model code of conduct, and referred to clause VII of the code which states that "issue of advertisement at the cost of public exchequer ... regarding achievements with a view to furthering the prospects of the party in power shall be scrupulously avoided".
A boarding pass issued by Air India had pictures of PM Modi and Gujarat Chief Minister Vijay Rupani. The airline had said the passes featuring the photographs, which were third-party advertisements, would be withdrawn if they were found to be in violation of the Model Code of Conduct.
Former Punjab DGP Shashi Kant had on March 25 tweeted a photograph of his boarding pass issued at the New Delhi airport, questioning how pictures of the two leaders could be on it.