ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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Protecting the Unjust

Protecting the Unjust THE Union home ministry has decided to assign National Security Guard (Black Cats) for the protection of the chief election commissioner (CEC). It is a pity that the institution of the Election Commission has come to such a pass after 40 years of existence. Even during the worst days of Indira Gandhi, when the institution became almost a part of the executive, no such protection was needed for its chief. For the last three months, the CEC has been acting strangely, to say the least. He seems to have got an impression that he is a super-government. In fact the CEC is only a figurehead of a vast and prestigious institution. He has no authority of his own. He is like the president of India. Even the local officers of the government act for and on bdialf of the president, but the president has no authority to act on his own, except in rare cases. Similarly the CEC is a respected figurehead. He has to act through others. The CEC has no authority to order a repoll, much less to countermand an election. Both the sections 52 and 58 of the Representation of the Peoples Act (RPA) make this very clear. Under section 52, if a candidate dies before the beginning of poll, the Returning Officer (RO) has to be satisfied of the same and then counter mand the election. Under section 58, which is an amendment to the act passed in 1988, the returning officer can countermand an election if there is violence and malpractice. In neither case is the CEC in the picture. The only provisions in these sections are that the RO should inform the CEC of the developments. The CEC comes into the picture only when a new date and time is fixed for the counter manded poll. But T N Seshan, the CEC has been behaving like a king. He countermands election even without a report from RO; threatens to cancel (!) a notified election; and demands that such and such forces should not be deployed. It one commits such atrocities on an helpless people, I dare say that, leave alone Black Cats, even wild cats cannot save one.

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