NEW DELHI, Feb 21 � A fresh controversy broke out today over reports to curtail powers of the Election Commission, but it was dubbed as �totally mischievous� by the Government which also said this may be considered as part of electoral reforms if political parties want it, reports PTI.
A battery of ministers, who are in the GoM on corruption � Pranab Mukherjee, Kapil Sibal and Salman Khurshid, besides the Department of Personnel � vehemently denied that there was any proposal to rein in EC by giving statutory backing to the Model Code of Conduct (MCC).
�The contents of the report are totally misconceived as there is no such move under contemplation of the Government or the Group of Ministers,� the DoPT said in an official statement.
The DoPT was reacting to reports that the Group of Ministers on corruption was going to consider giving a statutory backing to the MCC at its meeting tomorrow, a move that would take away the powers of its enforcement from the EC to courts.
�The GoM has not made any recommendation to make the MCC statutory or to take it outside the purview of the Commission,� the DoPT said.
However, a DoPT note for the GoM makes a mention of the issue. It was suggested that the Legislative Department may look into the aspects where �executive instructions� of the EC were required to be given statutory shape.
It noted that the chairman of the GoM to tackle corruption Finance Minister Mukherjee was of the view that the MCC was one of the biggest excuses to stall the development projects, and thus agreed with the request of the Law Minister to flag the issue and its inclusion in the agenda papers.
Mukherjee, however, said, �there is no such thing. I don�t know from where this idea has come. But in the GoM agenda, there is nothing.�
Law Minister Khurshid said there was no such thing on the agenda. �As I understand, it was agreed that once the elections are over, there will be an all-party consultations on issues about electoral reforms, many of which have been pushed by the Election Commission itself,� he said.