The Election Commission (EC) has sought powers from the Centre to act against those questioning its credibility by levelling unfounded allegations, an Indian Express report has said. It has urged changes in Contempt of Courts Act, 1971, to give it powers to punish anyone being disobedient or discourteous towards its authority. It has written a letter to the Law Ministry over a month ago and the matter is under consideration. The commision in its letter has cited examples of its counterparts abroad, including the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP), which can initiate contempt proceedings against those sullying its image.
Earlier this year, the ECP had issued contempt notice to cricketer-turned-politician Imran Khan for accusing it of bias in a case of foreign funding. The commission is still hearing the case. The EC’s demand is significant considering allegations by some political parties, especially Aam Admi Party (AAP) accusing the panel of playing favourites. Currently, it has no specific powers in such cases, the paper said.
Recently in an interview, Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal questioned election commissioners A K Joti and O P Rawat’s impartiality, prompting the latter to recuse himself from all AAP-related matters in future. Rawat later said that the unprecedented decision was needed to protect the credibility of the Commission. On being asked on office-of-profit case being heard by the EC against 21 AAP MLAs, he had alleged that two of the three election commissioners were close to the ruling dispensation.
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“One of the election commissioners, A K Joti, was chief secretary of Gujarat under (Narendra) Modiji. The second election commissioner has come from Madhya Pradesh and has been very close to Shivraj Singh Chouhan. So, independence of both these election commissioners is under question,” he was quoted as saying.