NEW DELHI: In an unprecedented move, the Election Commission on Saturday sought the President to intervene after Union Law Minister Salman Khurshid - who was censured by the poll body over his minorities’ sub-quota remarks -- said that he would “defy the EC” and stick to his line even if he is hanged.
Earlier speaking at an election meeting at Farrukhabad in support of his wife last month, Khurshid had promised a 9 per cent minority sub quota out of the total 33 per cent OBC reservation “if the Congress was voted to power in the state”.
Taking umbrage at the statement, the BJP had petitioned the EC arguing that “he had violated the model code of conduct”.
The EC heard both sides out and concluded that Khurshid had indeed violated the model code of conduct and censured him on Friday. But again on Saturday, Khurshid reiterated that he would stick to his guns irrespective of the EC directives.
The three Election Commissioners held an emergency meeting on Saturday afternoon to discuss the matter and decided to petition the President herself.
The letter was sent at 7 pm on Saturday. “The Election Commission of India finds it necessary and unavoidable to turn to you at this juncture for immediate and decisive intervention so that the ongoing General Election to the Uttar Pradesh Assembly is conducted, and this Commission discharges its functions, in accordance with the Constitution and the law,” the letter to the President, signed by Chief Election Commissioner S Y Quraishi, said.
The letter mentioned about Khurshid’s reaction to the EC censure upon him.
“We have found the tone and tenor of the Union Minister dismissive and utterly contemptuous about the Commission’s lawful direction to him, besides the fact that his action is damaging the level-playing field in the election. The above response of a Union Minister and that too, the Law Minister, to the Commission’s decision in a model code of conduct case has created a disturbing situation,” it said.
“The Commission is shocked that instead of being remorseful about the violation of the model code, that carries the consensus of all political parties and the sanction of the Supreme Court, the Minister has chosen to be defiant and aggressive. This is unprecedented,” the letter said.
The EC said that it felt particularly perturbed that “undermining of its constitutionally- mandated duties has come from the Law Minister who has a direct responsibility to uphold and strengthen the EC rather than to denigrate it”.
“Hence, we find the immediate need to draw attention of the executive to the fact that the onus of holding free and fair polls falls on all the organs of the state. The Commission is quite concerned that the delicate balance of functions between constitutional authorities has come under a strain, because of the Minister’s improper and unlawful action,” the letter added.