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Election Commissioner Ashok Lavasa Opts Out Of Meetings, Says Minority Decisions Not Being Recorded

“My participation in the deliberations of the Commission becomes meaningless since my minority decisions go unrecorded.”

Election commissioner Ashok Lavasa has reportedly recused himself from Election Commission (EC) meetings since May 4 that determine model code of conduct (MCC) violations as his dissent notes were not being recorded in the final orders. He claimed was his “minority decisions going unrecorded”.

The particular instance referred to pertains to Lavasa dissenting with his two colleagues — Chief Election Commissioner Sunil Arora and Sushil Chandra — on the poll panel in five different MCC violation complaints against Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Bharatiya Janata Party chief Amit Shah. The poll panel’s rules express the preference for a unanimous view but provide for a majority ruling in the absence of unanimity.

NDTV’s Arvind Gunasekar and Sreenivasan Jain reported that on May 4 Lavasa wrote to the Chief Election Commissioner, “I am being forced to stay away from the meetings of the full commission since minority decisions are not being recorded,” adding, “My participation in the deliberations of the Commission becomes meaningless since my minority decisions go unrecorded.”

He also wrote, “I might consider taking recourse to other measures aimed at restoring the lawful functioning of the Commission in terms of recording minority decisions. My various notes on the need for transparency in the recording and disclosure of all decisions including the minority view have gone unheeded, forcing me to withdraw from participating in the deliberations on the complaints.”

As per reports, after receiving the letter the chief election commissioner Sunil Arora called a meeting with Lavasa.

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A person familiar with the matter told Hindustan Times that since May 4, Lavasa has sent several reminders to the chief election commissioner to include dissent notes in the final orders.

After May 4, the EC has not held any meetings to discuss MCC violations and so no orders have been passed on MCC violations either. This has resulted in a backlog of complaints related to various MCC violations, including one against PM Modi, for addressing former PM Rajiv Gandhi as “Bhrashtachari No 1”.

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The EC had used the loophole that since the decision on MCC violations was not a quasi-judicial decision, it is not necessary to record Lavasa’s dissent in the final orders. However, a former chief election commissioner told HT that dissenting opinions have to be included in the final order even in cases of MCC violations.

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