Former secretary EAS Sarma has requested independent judicial probe in the incident where Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) announced election dates in Karnataka before a formal announcement by the Election Commission of India (ECI).
Mr Sarma, in a letter to President Ram Nath Kovind, says, “I understand from the news reports that a BJP spokesperson released the date of Karnataka Assembly elections ahead of ECI. This makes a mockery of the integrity of India’s electoral system. Such instances have, time and again, eroded the credibility of ECI. Public trust in ECI is crucial for our democracy to survive.”
“It appears that ECI has referred the matter to Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) and Intelligence Bureau (IB) to ascertain the source of a possible ‘leak’ of information. Such an investigation may not help reinforce public confidence in the credibility of ECI as neither IB nor CBI has the necessary functional autonomy in the matter,” he added.
As per media reports, Amit Malviya, In-charge of BJP’s national Information & Technology, tweeted about Karnataka election at 11.08am on 27 March 2018 before any official announcement from Chief Election Commissioner Om Prakash Rawat. Malviya later deleted his tweet. However, Times Now had flashed the news about Karnataka election dates two minutes before Malviya’s tweet, as per media reports.
According to Mr Sarma, the former secretary, in addition to the possibility of a “leak” of confidential information from ECI, it is possible that certain political parties were selectively privy to the date of the election, compared to the others. He says, if such is the case, nothing less than a judicial enquiry will clear the air in this matter.
“Knowing your strong commitment to the values enshrined in the Constitution, I have no doubt that you will take appropriate action so as to assure the public that the integrity of the electoral system will not be allowed to be compromised under any circumstance,” Mr Sarma said in his letter to the President.