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The Supreme Court today (Tuesday, April 30) issued notice to the Election Commission (EC) on the Congress’ petition seeking direction to the poll panel to act on complaints of alleged violation of Model Code of Conduct (MCC) by Prime Minister Narendra Modi and BJP president Amit Shah.

The Supreme Court Bench headed by Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi court said it will be open to the EC to pass necessary orders in the matter. It will hear the matter again on Thursday.

The petition, filed by Congress MP Sushmita Dev, alleged that the poll body failed to act against the top BJP leaders despite “multiple complaints” lodged against them.

The EC, meanwhile, told the two-judge bench of Justices Deepak Gupta and Sanjiv Khanna that it would meet later today to consider the complaints filed against the leaders.

The full Commission — comprising the Chief Election Commissioner Sunil Arora and Election Commissioners Ashok Lavasa and Sushil Chandra — has not had a single deliberation since April 5 on the alleged violations by the Prime Minister.

The Congress had filed its first complaint against Modi and Shah on April 5.

“It is in public domain that they have indulged in hate speeches, repeatedly used the armed forces for political propaganda, despite a clear prohibition on the same by the Respondent/ECI. Furthermore, the Prime Minister in blatant violation of the MCC held a rally on the day of polling in Gujarat on April 23rd, 2019 i.e. date of voting in the third phase of the election,” Sushmita Dev said in her plea.

The apex court had yesterday agreed to urgently hear a Congress petition about the EC not taking action on continued hate speeches and misuse of the armed forces as political propaganda by Modi and Shah.

In one of the most direct attacks against the EC, the 146-page petition said there was one set of rules for Modi and Shah, and another for the rest of the candidates.

The Congress MP said the Election Commission had not acted on the party’s complaints against PM Modi and Amit Shah for three weeks. The Congress petition said the EC’s continued silence on complaints about hate speeches and misuse of the armed forces as political propaganda by Prime Minister Narendra Modi and BJP president Amit Shah amounted to a “tacit endorsement” of their conduct.

The Congress said that 40 representations on violation of the Model Code of Conduct (MCC) were moved in the ECI so far, but no action had been coming from the poll body, which should be devoted to the concept of free and fair elections in a democracy. The delay in action, the Congress said, was a deliberate action itself.

The EC had last month categorically told political parties to desist from referring to actions taken by the military in their poll campaigns in the wake of the Pulwama terror attack and the Balakot air strikes earlier this year.

The Congress has alleged that despite such clear instructions, Modi and Shah repeatedly cited military operations undertaken by the armed forces under the BJP rule at election rallies.

Recounting how leaders like Mayawati were banned from campaigning for 72 hours for violating the MCC, the petition said that the lack of action against the Prime Minister and the BJP president despite cogent evidences, representations and exhortations to the ECI “demonstrates abdication and indecision and a complete absence of justice, in ensuring a level playing field in ensuing General Elections for the Lok Sabha.”

It said, “The inactions, omissions and commissions by the Respondent/ECI are in complete and direct violation of Articles 14 and 21 of the Constitution and which are impeding free, fair and unbiased General Elections, 2019.”

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