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Did poll panel act in haste?

The unprecedented recommendation of the Election Commission (EC) asking BJP not to nominate Varun Gandhi for his hate speeches in Pilibhit has left experts divided on whether it was within the Commission’s power to do so.

india Updated: Mar 24, 2009 00:47 IST

The unprecedented recommendation of the Election Commission (EC) asking BJP not to nominate Varun Gandhi for his hate speeches in Pilibhit has left experts divided on whether it was within the Commission’s power to do so.

While most legal experts have questioned the action, former Chief Election Commissioner (CEC) B.B. Tandon has come out in
support saying under the circumstances the order is “absolutely appropriate”.

But another CEC G.V.G. Krishnamurty raised doubts saying the EC has no jurisdiction to take such an action, as Varun is not a candidate under law before notification of election in the constituency.

The EC had de-franchised Bal Thackeray in 1998 after he was convicted for delivering a communally charged speech during a rally in 1987.

Holding Varun guilty of “throwing to winds” the Supreme Court advice to candidates, the EC said his speeches were dangerous and threatening to the survival of democracy and communal harmony.

In the light of these observations, senior lawyer Shanti Bhushan said Article 324 of the Constitution gives EC the power to hold free and fair election.

But former Lok Sabha secretary general Subhash C. Kashyap said the EC has no powers to advise a party. Agreeing with him, senior advocate Ram Jethmalani said its advice to the BJP or Varun is not binding.