EC ‘not acting tough’ on election code violatorsThe Election Commission (EC)’s poll code of conduct seems to have been limited to papers only.
The Election Commission (EC)’s poll code of conduct seems to have been limited to papers only.
Of the 92 complaints filed at the EC regarding violation of poll code of conduct, the poll body has not taken “strong action” against any of the offenders.
As per the Election Commission Act, the poll body can slap a maximum fine of Rs 100,000 for violating poll code. In cases of poll code violation by candidates, the EC holds the authority of scrapping the candidacy.
“Of the 92 complaints filed at the EC headquarters regarding violation of poll code so far, no one has been made to pay fine,” said a source at the EC.
Complaints of government ministers using helicopters and participating in inauguration of development projects and political parties organising motorcycle rallies, parties and candidates using election materials larger that they are allowed to, among others have been filed at the EC.
“We have barred ministers from using government-owned helicopters in 14 cases since the code of conduct came into force on March 1,” said the source.
However, in a joint statement, General Election Observers Organisation (GEOC), the National Election Observer Organisation (NEOC) and the Inclusive Women Alliance for Peace, Justice and Democracy stated on Sunday that the EC had failed to ensure compliance with code of conduct strongly for both first and second phase of local polls.
“Even a small amount of monetary penalty imposed on certain candidate, party or poll campaigner would send a strong message and make them fall in line,” said Surya Prasad Shrestha, chairperson of NEOC. “The EC seems to be too flexible when it comes to enforcing the code of conduct.”
According to EC officials, poll code violators have been issued warnings only.
“Most of them were first time offenders. Once they promised not to repeat the offence, we issued warning notice in their names,” said the EC source.
Election Commissioner Ishwori Poudyal said the poll body “has instructed a high-level monitoring team headed by joint secretaries to fine those found guilty of violating code of conduct”.
“If no one has been fined, it is because cases [of code violation] against them were not established when footages, images and other evidences checked,” he said.