States Anurag Thakur “Who is the Ghaddar feeling Hurt?”

By Amba Charan Vashishth

The decision of the Election Commission (EC) of India to ban the Union Minister of State for Finance Anurag Thakur and BJP MP Parvesh Verma from campaigning for the current elections to Delhi Vidhan Sabha for 3 and 4 days, respectively, saying that it was not satisfied with the reply given by the two leaders. The EC further said that its earlier order to remove the two leaders from the list of star campaigners would also continue.

EC direction may be heartening to some sections of political parties but it does not stand the test of being rational. It has handed out two punishments for the same ‘offence’  of having made one single statement.

Further, EC issued the January 30 order finding having  been “not satisfied with their reply”. But the first order directing their party to remove their names from the list of “star campaigners” was issued in post haste and was arbitrary because it was done without seeking an explanation from the two leaders before issuing the first order.

“Goli maaro ghaddaaron ko” (kill the traitors) is a very common phrase in our day-today life and society. “Main tumhen goli maar doonga” is a phrase used even within a family when a child or wife/husband is going to commit something wrong which is not in tune with the family and society’s traditions. In cases where girls and infants have been murdered after rape, the victims and their families have always been demanding (goli maar do un gunahgaaron ko” (kill the guilty). In the notorious Nirbhaya rape and murder case, her mother has been running from pillar to post to get her daughter’s killers hanged at the earliest. Is it a crime?

In the instant case, Thakur demanded and Verma supported:”Goli maaro ghaddaron ko”. They have just demanded the killing of the traitors; they have not identified or named who are the traitors. Does the EC and the people feel that it is against law or Model Code of Conduct to demand traitors to be hanged? Identifying traitors is the function of the investigating agency and judiciary to punish the ‘traitor’.

To quote just a few cases, Maqbool Butt in J&K, Afzal Guru accused in the 2001 Parliament case, 26/11 Pakistani terrorist Ajmal Kasab, were tried and ordered to be hanged by the highest court of the country and not by the common man in the street.  It is a different matter that the common man did demand these traitors to be killed (goli maaro).  The common man is not guilty of any crime in demanding it.

A boy abducted an infant from his neighbourhood in Shimla for the purpose of ransom more than two years back. When failed, the boy killed the infant and dumped his body in a water storage tank. After a few months, the guilty boy was named and arrested. His mother was so dejected that before the Press she said: I will shoot him myself on the Mall road. Did she commit a crime by saying so?

The then Congress President while campaigning in 2019 elections to Parliament openly alleged repeatedly in a number of electoral rallies that “chaukidar chor hai” obviously meaning PM Narendra Modi who had been claiming to be a chaukidar of the nation. But, surprisingly, EC did neither take note of it and neither acted on it. Why?

Our law says that murder/rape/treason is a heinous crime and if anybody does commit such a crime he stands to be hanged or given some other punishment. Recently, a new law has been passed providing for a very high punishment or fine for breaking traffic laws. Doies our law threaten people? Our law does threaten the law-breaker but not the innocent law-abider. And so does the EC or the election law. If one is not a traitor, why should one lose one’s sleep?

There is another side of the story. The CBI has come out with a charge-sheet against former JNUSU president Kanhaiyya Kumar. But the AAP Delhi government is sitting over the matter of sanctioning his prosecution for the last about two years. A Delhi court also regretted this fact. The Delhi government should have taken a decision on merit by either sanctioning his prosecution or refusing it one way or the other. It should not have sat over the file for so long.  AAP CM knew that granting sanction or denying it will cost it losing electoral gain from one section of the people. It is a travesty of facts that this very government had been criticizing the Lt. Governor for sitting over some of its files.

In its anxiety to look impartial, EC itself has raised a question on its own image.  The EC should not only be fair and impartial, but should also appear to be so.

Author : Amba Charan Vashishtha

 

ELECTION OF PRESIDENT: A Post-poll legal Battle Appears Imminent

The court of the people will make its verdict public through its elected representatives in State assemblies and Parliament on July 19. But that may not be final verdict. The people’s court verdict may ultimately be challenged in the courts of law. It may put a question mark on the result itself. An indication to this effect has already been given by the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and Mr. P. A. Sangma, the only opponent of Congress candidate for election of president Mr. Pranab Mukherjee.

 This ugly situation seems to be developing not on account of the manipulations of his only rival but by the overwhelming overconfidence generated by the numbers that seemed to be favouring the Congress nominee. His poll managers failed to be vigilant to ensure that he did not hold any office of profit the day he filed his nomination papers. Perhaps they erred into believing that the Office of Profit Act 2006 had exempted the office of the Chairman of Indian Statistical Institute (ISI), Kolkata from being so. They seem to have forgotten that exemption provided in this Act applied only to the MPs and MLAs and not to the office of President.

 Mr.  P. A. Sangma had urged rejection of the nomination papers of his only rival Mr. Pranab Mukherjee on the ground that the latter continued to hold an ‘office of profit’ as ISI chairman.  Congress Party was quick to dismiss the contention as “factually incorrect” and claimed that Mr. Mukherjee had resigned this post on June 20 “well before filing the nomination”.
Parliamentary Affairs Minister P. K. Bansal who alongwith Home Minister P. Chidambaram argued the case on behalf of Mr. Mukherjee said they told the Returning Officer that Mr. Mukherjee had resigned as ISI Chairman and the same had been forwarded to the President of the Institute. The Returning Officer accepted the argument as also Mr. Mukherjee’s papers, they said.

 No speaking order

 The stage for the constitutional wrangling has been set by the decision of the returning officer for Presidential election V. K. Agnihotri. He did not make public copy of any speaking order issued by him. All that he told reporters was that he ”overruled the objections raised “ by Mr. Sangma after “making summary inquiries, as required under the relevant provisions of the presidential and vice-presidential Election Act regarding conduct of scrutiny of nomination papers and after hearing both the parties in both the cases” on July 3,  “as they were untenable and lacked merit.”

 Article 58(2) of the Constitution provides that a ”person shall not be eligible for election as President if he holds any office of profit under the Government of India or the Government of any State or under any local or other authority subject to the control of any of the said Governments”. Therefore, as per requirements of law Mr. Mukherjee should not have been holding “any office of profit” at the time of filing his nomination papers.

 Acceptance of resignation vital

 On the directions of the Election Commission, the Returning Officer has supplied a copy of his order to Mr. Sangma. Although the text has so far not been made public, but BJP has claimed that it is not a “speaking order” and it only mentions the ‘fact’ of Mr. Mukherjee having resigned. The mandatory requirement is not just his resignation but the fact that he did not hold “any office of profit” on the day and the time he filed his nomination papers. By mere resigning or his resignation having been forwarded to any authority does not imply that he ceases to hold his post. This he does only after his resignation had been accepted.

 Merely by resigning one does not cease to hold the office. An individual who resigns as a minister, an MP or MLA does  get relieved of his office not on the time and date he resigned but from the time and date his resignation is accepted by the President or Governor, or Speaker, as the case may be. Therefore, Mr. Mukherjee’s resignation does not mean that he ceased to hold his office of profit mere by the fact of his resigning.

 The government or Mr. Mukherjee have so far failed to make public a notification to the effect that Mr. Mukherjee’s resignation from the office (of profit) of ISI Chairman has been accepted on  a date prior to his filing of nomination papers. The President of the ISI has so far not opened his mouth. Any post-dated notification declaring an ante-dated acceptance of his resignation would only be an after-thought, bad in law and will substantiate Mr. Sangma’s charge. This fact has vitiated the very atmosphere of the election process.

Signatures ‘forged’?

 BJP has even challenged that Mr. Mukherjee’s signatures on the resignation are forged. It has released two different signatures. Reacting to the charge, Mr. Mukherjee wondered whether he would himself forge his own signatures.  But this reaction does not clear the cloud of doubt. A minister cannot have two different sets of signatures. Moreover, whenever a minister takes office, his specimen signatures are sent to various agencies. These are the signatures he has to use in all his official communications. No person can afford to have two sets of signatures using one today and the other tomorrow.

 The new development has only vitiated the whole election process. It has opened floodgates of suspicion. Anybody going in for an election petition has a strong case. There are numerous instances where elections to parliament and state assemblies have been set aside or in a case of direct election, the loser having been declared the winner because of wrong acceptance or rejection of nomination papers of a candidate.