CEC wrote two letters to Ashok Lavasa to let election process continue
3 commissioners met informally on Saturday after it became public that Lavasa had officially recused himself from MCC issues.
ET has reliably gathered that the three commissioners met informally on Saturday after it became public that Lavasa had officially recused himself from all MCC issues until a decision is made on making his dissent notes public. The three, however, agreed on a statement, which said the issue was “purely an internal matter of ECI & any speculation, innuendoes and insinuations should be eschewed”.
Meanwhile, those familiar with the developments told ET that Lavasa has written a detailed note in response to EC’s legal division, which had opined that MCC decisions are executive and not quasi-judicial in nature, which the dissenting view cannot be separately recorded in the final communique.
Lavasa is learnt to have argued that Article 324 of the Constitution, from where the EC draws its powers, allows for placing strong restrictions on someone’s freedom of speech through campaign bans and censures and, therefore, can hardly be called mere executive decisions. He has added that EC’s proceedings and decisions on MCC matters are in the nature of quasi-judicial orders as they also, like other semi-judicial bodies, follow the principle of natural justice and give an opportunity to the accused to explain. He is believed to have cited some examples to strengthen his argument.
The EC’s line so far is that these MCC is an administrative matter and the dissent is essentially in the form of an official noting and not a reasoned judicial order.
Despite his recusal, informed sources told ET that Lavasa has been an attending all EC meetings, including the one called by CEC Arora on May 18 amid leaks of his communication on recusal.
Prior to this, on May 14, the Commission had unanimously agreed that the MCC-related concerns raised by Lavasa would be deliberated in detail through one of the 13 working groups set up to examine the overall conduct of the 2019 elections.
This would specifically examine possibilities and requirements of recording a member’s dissent in a Commission order, added sources. On Saturday, the EC issued two statements. The first came from the office of the CEC terming the controversy “unsavoury” and an “avoidable controversy” on the “internal functioning of ECI in respect of handling MCC”. The statement referred to Arora’s remarks to the ET on May 6 where he said: “The eloquence of silence is always difficult but far more desirable” to maintain during the election process instead of creating “ill-timed controversies”.
“The three members of ECI 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 the confines of ECI after demission of office unless appearing much later in a book written by concerned ECs/CECs. I have personally never shied away from a public debate whenever required but there is a time for everything,” CEC statement said. The second statement, which was issued after three commissioners met, terming it an 'internal matter' added that "it also needs to be mentioned that a meeting had already been scheduled on 21.5.2019 to discuss this and related matters".