EC pulls up MHA over anti-Sikh riot compensation issue
New Delhi: The Election Commission pulled up the Home Ministry today over the news that it had announced fresh compensation for 1984 riot victims, questioning why it had not denied the media reports if no decision had been taken in this regard as claimed by the government. In an order on the issue, the EC said the absence of a denial by the Home Ministry led to an “unmistakable impression” that a decision has actually been taken.
The Commission said there should be an assurance that “such instances do not recur in future.” The EC was deciding on the Home Ministry's response to its notice issued on October 31 after news appeared that the government would give a fresh compensation of Rs 5 lakh to each of those killed in the 1984 anti-Sikh riots.
The Commission had asked the government to give an explanation on the news item by November 3 as the election model code of conduct was in place in view of Assembly bypolls in Delhi, which have since been cancelled following dissolution of the House.
Referring to MHA's response to an earlier EC letter, the poll watchdog said while government has maintained that no decision was taken regarding compensation, the news was “widely published” and disseminated not only in the print media but also on the electronic media.
“Several panel discussions on various TV channels were also arranged,” pointed out the EC order sent to the MHA. “The Commission has also not come across any denial of the above news by the government in the electronic media, etc.
“Thus, it cannot be denied that the above news item gave an unmistakable impression to the electorate that a decision to the above effect was in fact taken by the government and that had the likelihood to effect of disturbing the level playing field when the Model Code of Conduct was in force in Delhi in the context of the then ongoing bye-elections to the Delhi Legislative Assembly (for three seats), which ought to have been avoided,” the two-page order said.