Mukul Roy speaks in RS on the demand for discussion on the role of Election Commission
Thank you, Sir.
Sir, I would also like to thank the Honourable Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee for instructing me to talk on such an important issue. In India, general elections to Parliament or elections to the State legislatures are considered to be the festival of democracy.
But the way the Election Commission functions, the festivals are all evaporating. Under Articles 324, 325 and 326 of the Constitution, all powers for holding elections are vested in the Election Commission of India. I am compelled to say that the way elections are being conducted requires review for ensuring a fair and judicious election process.
It is high time we examine whether the Election Commission is being impartial. The procedure for appointing the members of the Election Commission is conducted by the Government. Now the Election Commission is run by Government officials. The time has come to review the appointment of the election commissioners.
It might be mentioned that Articles 324, 325 and 326 are applicable where law does not exist. But no situation of lawlessness was evident during the entire election process in West Bengal. Erratic transfers of 76 officers in West Bengal, including the police commissioner of Kolkata, without any valid reason, raised doubts whether the ECI (Election Commission of India) was carrying out some political vendetta or not.
Please note that the EC is appointed by the Government but throughout the tenure of the polls, they seemed to be acting autocratically. During the 2016 Assembly election, the directions of the EC were completely against the ruling party in West Bengal. Throughout their conduct in power, which was undoubtedly unconstitutional, they tried to ring in the death knell of democracy in West Bengal. While they tried to choke the smooth conducting of the administration, people defied their motives and came out in large numbers to vote for Trinamool Congress.
Sir, they used the CRPF during the election. Of course, it lies within the powers of the Election Commission to send the CRPF. The enforcement of Section 144 in a large number of constituencies without any rhyme or reason prevented many voters from exercising their constitutional right. Needless to say, the powers to promulgate Section 144 are vested in authorities other than the Election Commission. But the local administration was compelled to put several areas under prohibitory orders at the instance of the Election Commission.
Keeping the atrocities in the backdrop, it is high time a legislation is formulated to define the powers of the Election Commission for upholding democracy.