A demand by the Election Commission to get power to initiate contempt proceedings against political parties which make allegations against it without credible evidence has been rejected by the government, the Rajya Sabha was informed today. Minister of State for Law P P Chaudhury said in a written reply that the EC proposal was examined from legal and constitutional angles. The Law Ministry had also taken into account judicial pronouncements in this regard. “It has been opined that the conferment of the power of contempt on the Election Commission may be inconsistent with the law laid down by the Supreme Court,” he said.
In a letter written in April, the Commission had urged the law ministry to amend the election laws so that it could use ‘Contempt of Court’ Act against such parties. The letter came close on the heels of the AAP questioning the impartiality of the EC. “Some even accuse the Commission of working in favor of the winning political parties… in order to address the emerging situation, there is a rationale and a strong-felt need that the Election Commission may also be given the power to punish for its own contempt,” the poll watchdog had said. It pointed out that several election management bodies, including those in Kenya and Pakistan, have “direct powers” to initiate contempt proceedings.