The Election Commission on Sunday pulled up Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal for targeting it and told Goa officials to file an FIR against him for telling voters to take money from other political parties but vote for the AAP.
The Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) said it was a non-cognizable offence and hence no FIR can be registered over the matter.
Taking notice of a media report wherein the AAP leader attacked the Election Commission wondering if it was taking orders from the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO), the poll panel called the remarks “baseless”, “scurrilous” and “highly depreciable”.
“The substance, tone and tenor of the address/interview are not only baseless and scurrilous but also unethical and highly depreciable against Election Commission, a constitutional authority,” the Commission said in a strongly-worded letter to Kejriwal.
Taking umbrage to Kejriwal’s remarks made during his campaign for the Goa assembly polls, the Election Commission directed that a First Information Report be slapped against him.
“We have been asked to file an FIR and send a compliance report by January 31,” an official source told IANS in Panaji.
The AAP said the communication received from the Election Commission directs Kejriwal not to make such statements and does not convey that any criminal case has been registered against him.
It added that since it was a non-cognizable offense, no FIR can be registered over the matter.
“However, it is being reported that some order has been passed by the Election Commission for registration of FIR/complaint. But no such order has been communicated to Kejriwal,” the AAP said in a statement.
It said the party will avail legal remedies if such an order was passed by the poll panel.
In all his four speeches at various rallies in Goa, Kejriwal said people should not just accept Rs 5,000 but demand Rs 10,000 from politicians keen on offering money but vote for AAP instead.
“These statements are probably wrong and indefensible as per the provisions of law on bribery and is not acceptable to the Commission,” the panel said.
The Commission had censured Kejriwal on January 20 on the same issue. Kejriwal had defended himself saying he was not asking people to vote for the party which give money and thus committing no bribery offence.
“You are repeatedly violating Model Code of Conduct and not adhering to your assurance to the Election Commission,” the Sunday letter said.
“lnstead of taking the EC’s advisory in the right spirit, you have been persistently indulging in objectionable activity,” it said, adding that it was “concerned” about Kejriwal’s conduct, utterances and demeanour.
“Even after being reprimanded by the Commission and directed not to incite the voters, you are still continuing with your statements of instigating voters to take money from other parties.
“Instead of making wild allegations you are most welcome to adduce any evidence of distribution of money by any person or party and help the Commission to take necessary action against them and stop corrupt practices.
“Your statement also casts aspersion on the integrity of the voters as if they are gullible and corrupt. Your statement is based totally on fallacious logic and presumption,” it said, directing Kejriwal to refrain from further making such statements and warned of stern action.
The AAP is making a major pitch for power both in Punjab and Goa. Both states vote on February 4.
But the AAP-controlled Delhi government’s media adviser Nagendar Sharma wondered if it was a mere coincidence that the Election Commission’s reprimand came within 24 hours after Prime Minister Narendra Modi said that criticism of the poll panel was not acceptable.
“Is Election Commission impartial and independent? One of the Commissioners was Chief Secretary of Gujarat before he retired in 2013,” Sharma tweeted. The tweet was shared by Kejriwal.