Election Commission seeks legal power to deal with contempt cases

12 June 2017

The Election commission of India (ECI) has sought to empower itself with powers to punish those bent on sullying its image and question its credibility. The commission has written a letter to the union law ministry seeking an amendment to the Contempt of Courts Act 1971 so that the powers are given to the ECI as well.

The move comes in the wake of several political parties questioning the credibility of the ECI, especially regarding the use of electronic voting machines and obliquely levelling collusion charges against the commission.

Parties, including the Aam Admi Party and the Bahujan Samaj Party have been accusing the ECI of tampering with the EVMs to favour the ruling party.

ECI, however, cannot act against any false allegations as it has no power to act against anyone for contempt, which lies with the higher courts, including the high courts and the Supreme Court.

In its letter to the law ministry, the ECI has letter cited examples of other commissions, including Pakistan's Election Commission, which have contempt powers. It has also cited the case in Pakistan where contempt charges were slapped against Imran Khan

The ministry is currently examining the letter and will take a final decision after due consultations with legal experts.

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