Source: 
MoneyLIfe
https://www.moneylife.in/article/election-commission-urged-to-act-on-alleged-violations-of-model-code-of-conduct-by-pm-modi/73992.html
Author: 
Moneylife Digital Team
Date: 
22.04.2024
City: 

Numerous public petitions, including letters from leading activists such Prof Jagdeep Chhokar, founder of the apolitical and non-partisan nonprofit organization, Association for Democratic Reforms (ADR),E A S Sarma, IAS officer and former Secretary to the Government of India, and others have been sent to Chief Election Commissioner Mr Rajiv Kumar, and Election Commissioners Mr Gyanesh Kumar and Dr Sukhbir Singh Sandhu, raising concerns about Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s speech yesterday.

The letters call upon the Election Commission of India (ECI) to address the serious allegations of violation of the Model Code of Conduct (MCC) by Mr Modi during a recent speech in Banswara, Rajasthan and to initiate swift action to uphold the integrity of the electoral process. The speech, which has been described as an electoral campaign event, allegedly includes statements that violate the MCC and electoral laws.

The letter from Prof Chhokar refers to specific excerpts from PM Modi’s speech, pointing out instances where religion is allegedly invoked for electoral gains. He says that the “excerpts from Shri Modi’s speech are clearly in violation of Sections 123(3), 123(3A), and Section 125 of the Representation of the People Act (RPA), 1951.” While providing a link to the video recording of the speech, Prof Chhokar has alsoprovided a written transcript of the contentious excerpt from PM Modi’s speech.He has also reproduced relevant sections of the law which apply to this alleged violation. 

As Prof Chhokar points out, section 123(3) of the RPA prohibits candidates or their agents from appealing to voters based on factors like religion, race, caste, community,or language, or using religious or national symbols to influence election outcomes. While, section 123(3A) prohibits candidates or their agents from promoting enmity or hatred between different groups of citizens based on religion, race, caste, community, or language, with the intent to further their election prospects or harm the prospects of other candidates.

Further, section 125 states that any person who promotes or attempts to promote feelings of enmity or hatred between different classes of citizens of India based on religion, race, caste, community,or language in connection with an election under the RPA shall be punishable. The punishment may include imprisonment for up to three years, a fine, or both.

Prof Chhokar further goes on to add that the “speech and the excerpts in particular, also attract the provisions of Section 153A of the Indian Penal Code,” which concerns the promotion of enmity between different groups on ground of religion, race, place of birth, residence, language etc.

E A S Sarma in his complaint letter to the Chief Election Commissioner endorses Prof Chhokar’s complaint andemphasises, “Shri Modi’s statement in Rajasthan not only amounts prima facie to invoking religion for votes but also misrepresenting others’ statements. Invoking religion for votes amounts to a corrupt practice” under Section 123 of the Representation of People Act attracting serious penalities.” He has sought “urgent action” from the ECI on this matter, adding that “if you (ECI) fail to act, you will not only be encouraging others to violate the MCC likewise but also become a party to the purported offence. The Commission will be commiting a breach of the mandate under Art 324, if it fails to act”.

Both complainants have urged ECI to take urgent and appropriate action in response to these alleged violations. They emphasise the critical nature of the ongoing elections and stress the importance of maintaining a fair and lawful electoral environment. As of now, ECI has not publicly responded to these specific allegations.

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