New Delhi: Law Minister Kiren Rijiju on Tuesday said “elements” trying to discredit the Election Commission (EC) were actually trying to discredit the democratic process of the country.
The minister also said the courts have a right to make observations on the Commission but the judges will also have to think about the language being used.
People who want to challenge democracy have found a way of doing so by challenging the poll panel, Rijiju said at a National Voters Day event organised by the EC where Chief Election Commissioner Sushil Chandra and Election Commissioners Rajiv Kumar and Anup Chandra Pandey were present.
The minister said the way EC has handled challenges from time to time, there is little scope to criticise it.
“There are efforts to discredit the EC’s efforts …those elements which are trying to discredit EC are actually trying to discredit the democratic process of our country,” he said.
He, however, did not name the “elements” he was referring to.
In a democracy, people are free to criticise the EC, but the criticism should be based on logic, he said, adding that the language used should be within civic norms.
He was of the view that while it is easy to pass comments, it is difficult to understand the problems and the background in which the poll panel functions.
Though he did not specify any court observation, the poll watchdog had faced criticism from courts for the assembly polls held last year amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
“If the courts says on EC, it can. Courts have a right. But the judges will have to think about what language they are using. Under what circumstances EC is working has to be understood,” he said.
Addressing the gathering, Rijiju said behind the EC’s success is the contribution of political parties and the citizens.
He noted that while the poll panel has faced criticism, it has also received appreciation from people.
Referring to the recent passage of a bill on electoral reforms, the minister said due to “ruckus” in the House he felt “handicapped” as he could not explain in detail the reforms being ushered in.
He said people should know the reforms were a result of the efforts put in by the EC and Legislative Department in the Law Ministry and informed that more electoral reforms could be coming in the future.
The minister said he would have been happy if he had been able to speak in Parliament for a few more minutes to explain the reforms.
Linking of Aadhaar with electoral rolls to weed out duplicate entries, increasing from one to four the dates on which an 18-year-old can register as a voter in a year and making election law gender-neutral for service voters were part of the bill.
The new provisions are yet to come in force. It will happen once the EC and the Law Ministry decide on the date of implementing it. Legislative Department is the nodal agency to deal with issues related to the EC.
The minister said while the government does not believe in interfering with the functioning of independent organs, there is a need to have constant coordination to push things.