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Capital Grapevine   

Virendra Kapoor

Apex court must reject out of hand periodic anti-EVM petitions to bolster EC

The Supreme Court reminding the Election Commission of its powers was rather perplexing. Unlike the apex court which over the years has expanded its remit far beyond what the framers of the Constitution envisaged, the EC still has to function within the four walls of its constitutional powers. Intruding into almost every facet of the executive and legislative decision-making, for defending, ostensibly, human rights, or protecting some other vague public interest, has virtually made the judges the final arbiters of all that goes on in the country.

But the SC should know that the EC cannot afford to take liberties with its important yet limited powers as the conductor and monitor of free and fair polls. Should it stray outside its specified jurisdiction, there is every likelihood the court itself will be the first one to come down on it with a tonne of bricks. But then the judges set their own terms of reference and can pronounce judgment on all matters under the sun.

By publicly prodding the EC to penalize the politicians in violation of the model code of conduct, the highest court in the land for a moment seemed to have been oblivious to the fact that the code has no legal sanctity, no constitutional support. If it has come to acquire wider acceptability, with the politicians meekly submitting to it, it is only because of the fear of public opprobrium. Moral and public support does not however tantamount to legal sanction. That may be why the editor of a Shiv Sena newspaper in Mumbai has publicly dared the EC to proceed against him for a few questionable utterances. The EC is yet to proceed in the matter.

Of course, the model code of conduct which comes into force immediately upon the poll being notified is absolutely necessary to discipline our wayward politicians. Our purpose in pointing out its lack of legal backing is only to emphasize the increasing arrogance of the judges who think nothing of playing super gods in all and sundry matters as if they alone embody the conscience of the nation. Given that they too have feet of clay like all those who people the rest of the constitutional framework, a bit of humility, and becoming consideration for others in authority, would go a long way in earning respect for the higher judiciary. It is not that all those who man the higher judiciary are saints. Far from it. Corruption gnaws at every institution of the state, including, nay, especially judiciary. However, for lack of a superior authority to vet its work for competence and integrity, members of the judiciary get away with a lot. Period.

While still on the EC-judiciary, it is strange that the highest court should repeatedly entertain pleas from the opposition leaders against the alleged malfunctioning of the Electoral Voting Machines. Indeed, why does the SC falter in its duty to defend the honour of a key constitutional body by dismissing at the threshold any suggestion of its lack of fairness and impartiality? The SC should not allow itself to become a platform for running down other constitutional authorities. Given how the EVMs have actually helped clean up the process of recording individual votes even in the farthest corners of the country where till the other day ballot-stuffing, bogus voting, booth capturing et al., was the norm, providing these hopeless losers a forum to undermine the electoral process should be unacceptable.

How come the same leaders when they find themselves on the winning side , don’t complain of faulty EVMs. On its part, the EC should not feel obliged to lend its ears to the anti-EVM noises. It has on multiple occasions established the invincibility of stand-alone machines against hacking. Not unlike the crazies who sprout up every now and then claiming to make petrol out of wild herbal growth, self-styled computer experts claiming to hack EVMs should be laughed out of court. Unfortunately, the viciously anti-Modi media plays up foolish claims made by groups of leaders who periodically trek to the Nirvachan Sadan with an eye on these vary sections of the media to provide them publicity.

But the question is why can’t the Supreme Court put an end to this nonsense about hacking of EVMs? It can either trust the Election Commission to nail the lie, which in fact it has on several occasions, or else it can take upon itself the task of challenging the petitioners to prove in an open court how they will hack over a million EVMs. And the court should impose salutary penalty in case the habitual complainers fail to establish their claim. We cannot have a situation where our leaders question the credibility of the foundational democratic process even before the first vote is cast. And we cannot have our highest court lending itself to become a vehicle for undermining the people’s faith in the electoral process.

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Tale of two women politicians

Until she joined the Shiv Sena, we thought for once we have a politician who has the guts to stand by her principles rather than cravenly submit to the demands of career-advancement by putting up with the worst kind of human behavior. Priyanka Chaturvedi, hitherto the Congress face on myriad television channels, made the right point when she protested against the re-entry of the very goons who had molested her back into the party fold. Gave her full marks for courage until we learnt she has gone and found herself another perch in the ideologically opposite Mumbai-centric party. Good luck to her!

On the other hand we have Atishi --- she conveniently dropped `Marlena’ from her name, thanks to the dirty identify politics of Arvind Kejriwal. The AAP candidate from the East Delhi constituency boasts of a string of foreign degrees, we are told. Yet, she blindly justified the egregious behavior of her colleague and former AAP minister Somnath Bharti. On live television, Bharati had called the anchor a `prostitute’ and other foul names. Disdaining her claim to a good education, Atishi prioritized loyalty to Kerjiwal, the AAP supremo, defending the indefensible. Likewise, she rationalized every wrong the AAP has done, from roughing up of the then Chief Secretary Anshu Prakash, to the acceptance of crores in cash and then using the hawala route to launder the same.

Notably, Prashant Bhushan and Yogindra Yadav, not to talk of the journalist-sycophants, found it too much to put up with the deviousness and crudities of Kejriwal and left the party in disgust. But Atishi, nay, highly-educated Atishi, continues to play second fiddle to the tinpot dictator. Why? Is it because her ambition has got the better of her self-avowed `good’ education?

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A Pappu joke

WhatsApp humour: Rahul and Priyanka are sitting together while he shakes his expensive cell phone rather wildly. On being asked why he was doing that, Rahul mumbles : Lots of calls have gone missing in this. Ha, ha!