‘Se­lec­tive am­ne­sia’: EC re­buts ex-CEC on its han­dling of hate speech

The Times of India (New Delhi edition) - - FRONT PAGE - Bharti.Jain

New Delhi: In a rare war of words be­tween the Elec­tion Com­mis­sion and a for­mer chief elec­tion com­mis­sioner who ques­tioned the poll panel for not fil­ing FIRs against hate speech in the re­cent Delhi polls, the EC has ac­cused S Y Qu­raishi of “se­lec­tive am­ne­sia”, high­light­ing that none of the model code vi­o­la­tion cases he had him­self han­dled as CEC re­sulted in FIRs.

Qu­raishi, who led EC from 2010 to 2012, had in an opinion piece pub­lished in a daily on February 8, 2020, won­dered why EC had stopped short of fil­ing FIRs against Union min­is­ter Anurag Thakur and BJP MP Parvesh Verma un­der Rep­re­sen­ta­tion of the People Act (RP Act) or Sec­tion 153 of IPC for hate speech de­spite find­ing them “guilty of of­fences de­serv­ing pun­ish­ment” un­der Sec­tion 123 and 125 of RP Act. He, how­ever, ap­pre­ci­ated EC’s de­ci­sion to drop the two from BJP’s list of star cam­paign­ers and tem­po­rar­ily bar them from cam­paign­ing.

In a re­ply sent to Qu­raishi on February 13, 2020 — a copy

In an opinion piece, SY Qu­raishi asked why EC hadn’t filed FIRs against min­is­ter Anurag Thakur and MP Parvesh Verma for hate speech dur­ing Delhi polls

In re­ply, deputy elec­tion com­mis­sioner San­deep Sax­ena said no ac­tion was taken un­der Sec 123 & 125 of RP Act 1951/153 of IPC 1860 by EC dur­ing Qu­raishi’s ten­ure as CEC (2010-12)

of which is with TOI — deputy elec­tion com­mis­sioner San­deep Sax­ena put on record each of the model code vi­o­la­tion pro­ceed­ings un­der­taken dur­ing Qu­raishi’s own term. “It would be seen from the en­closed list that no ac­tion was taken by the then Com­mis­sion dur­ing this pe­riod un­der Sec­tions 123 and 125 of RP Act 1951/153 of IPC 1860,” he pointed out.

“It is rather ironic as how far se­lec­tive am­ne­sia can mis­lead the read­ers,” the let­ter fur­ther stated.

When you go to an­other state, it takes time to get fa­mil­iar with the work­ing cul­ture and the people,” Jus­tice Dhar­mad­hikari said af­ter his res­ig­na­tion. “There is also a lot of ad­min­is­tra­tive work that needs to be done as a judge, which takes time.” He said he would be “con­nected and com­mit­ted to law and per­haps get into ar­bi­tra­tion” and con­tinue to live in Mum­bai.

The pre­vi­ous res­ig­na­tion of an HC judge was in Septem­ber. Madras HC CJ V K Tahilra­mani re­signed af­ter the Supreme Court col­legium de­clined her re­quest to re­con­sider a trans­fer to the Megha­laya HC as its CJ.

Jus­tice Dhar­mad­hikari’s con­tin­u­a­tion would have led to an awk­ward sit­u­a­tion in Bom­bay HC af­ter the re­tire­ment of Chief Jus­tice Pradeep Nan­dra­jog (due on February 23). Among the coun­try’s HC judges who are non-CJs, he is the se­nior-most, im­ply­ing that any judge to be ap­pointed as the Bom­bay HC’s CJ would be ju­nior to him. Jus­tice Dhar­mad­hikari can­not be made the Bom­bay HC’s CJ as no judge can be­come the CJ of the same HC ex­pect if their re­main­ing ten­ure is un­der six months. For ex­am­ple, Jus­tice Naresh Patil, who re­tired in April 2019, was ap­pointed CJ of the Bom­bay HC on Oc­to­ber 29, 2018.

Jus­tice Dhar­mad­hikari’s res­ig­na­tion took lawyers by sur­prise. His last sit­ting was on his reg­u­lar bench with Jus­tice Riyaz Chagla, be­fore lunch. He was be­ing per­suaded to leave Ma­ha­rash­tra since Jus­tice V K Tahilra­mani left the Madras HC. “I had to take a call,” he said, in a “short span”. “My el­ders used to say, ‘lis­ten when your fam­ily talks and lis­ten when your body talks’.” Did his fam­ily, in­clud­ing his wife, ask him not to go to any other HC? To the ques­tion, the judge smiled and said, “No, no”.

An ad­vo­cate since 1983, he was ap­pointed a Bom­bay HC judge in 2003, the same year his fa­ther, the late Judge C S Dhar­mad­hikari, was awarded a Padma Bhushan. His cousin, Jus­tice B P Dhar­mad­hikari, is the sec­ond se­nior-most judge at the Bom­bay HC right now.

Full report on www.toi.in

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