In a letter to the law ministry, the Election Commission of India sought powers of contempt to act against those who question its credibility by making baseless allegations. ThePrint‘s Kaveesha Kohli spoke to former election commissioners about whether this is necessary.
T.S. Krishnamurthy, former Chief Election Commissioner
“It can be given with safeguards. It is worth giving. Most political parties are harsh without (any) basis. It is not urgent, but can be worthwhile. These powers should not be unconditional, only to be given in extremely provocative situations. Criticism is welcome but the problem is baseless criticism, questioning motives without evidence. The political parties have deteriorated in their style of functioning; they are the weakest link in our democracy and need to be monitored.”
N. Gopalaswami, former Chief Election Commissioner
“It is not a good idea. Even if it’s offered it shouldn’t be taken. It can lead to more problems rather than solving anything. Public has an image of the Election Commission which can’t be shaken. Unfortunate comments have been there, I won’t deny. They are serious. But comments are made by people who lack credibility….Wild allegations should be avoided. Mature political parties don’t do this.”
S.Y. Quraishi, former Chief Election Commisioner
“There has been an overreaction. It is true that people do loose talk. Need for contempt powers is felt when there is wilful defiance of authority or lawful orders of the election commission and not for personal attacks. They should be taken in (our) stride.”