CEC defends curtailing of EC’s authority to cancel candidature

July 31, 2013

The chief election commissioner, Kazi Rakibuddin Ahmad, on Tuesday termed the RPO Article 91E ‘self-contradictory’ and ‘inapplicable’ to defend Election Commission’s decision to repeal the Article that empowers EC to cancel candidature.
The Article 91E of the Representation of the People Order 1972 empowers the commission to cancel candidature of any candidate to be found guilty of breaching any electoral code of conduct.
‘We have decided to drop the Article as part of it is self-contradictory and thus it is not possible to apply,’ the CEC told a media briefing at the EC secretariat at the Sher-e-Banglanagar in the city.
The CEC also said as the Article is not applicable it is ‘meaningless’.
He also insisted that the repealing of Article 91E would not curtail the commission’s authority as there were many other provisions in different electoral laws using which the commission could punish those who would violate the electoral code and conduct.
In response to a question, Kazi Rakibuddin Ahmad admitted that there were no other provisions in the electoral laws using which the commission can cancel candidature of a candidate to be found guilty of breaching electoral laws.
The Section 1 of the Article stipulates that notwithstanding anything contained in this Order or rules, if it appears to the Commission on receiving an information from any source or written report that, any contesting candidate or his agent or any other person on his behalf, by his order or under his direct or indirect consent, engages or attempts to engage in any serious illegal activity or violates or attempts to violate any provision of this Order or rules or Code of Conduct for which he may be disqualified to be elected as a member, the Commission may pass an order for an investigation into the matter, giving the contesting candidate a reasonable opportunity of being heard.
And the Section 2 of the Article says that after receiving the investigation report under Clause (1), if the commission is satisfied that the report was true, the commission may, by a written order, cancel the candidature of such candidate and in that event the election shall be held among the other contesting candidates of the concerned constituency; and where only one person remains as a contesting candidate because of cancellation of candidature of the other contesting candidate, election shall be held under Article 17 in that constituency.
But the EC, in its final proposal which was sent to the law ministry on July 25, had said that the sentence ‘election shall be held under Article 17 for that constituency’ of the Section 2 would be replaced by ‘such person shall be declared to be elected to the seat’.
However, the commission finally backtracked on its decision and decided to drop the entire Article from the RPO.

-With New Age input

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