Concerned over "lack" of prompt action by poll authorities against those making hate speeches, the Election Commission has directed field officials to take immediate action against politicians who vitiate the atmosphere during electioneering.
The EC's fresh directives to Chief Electoral Officers of states comes close on the heels of the poll body initiating action against senior politicians including Amit Shah, Azam Khan, Beni Prasad Verma and Karnataka Chief Minister Siddaramaiah for their controversial speeches while campaigning for Lok Sabha elections. "In some cases lack of prompt intervention and follow up is noticed...such speeches have the potential to vitiate the peaceful, free and fair election process, it is imperative on the part of district and state level authorities to initiate prompt legal action without any delay," a strongly-worded directive of the Commission said.
Taking a serious note of the delay on part of field poll authorities, the EC has asked officials to closely monitor and videograph all campaigns as per existing instructions "without any deviation". The directive said in case of any provocative and inflammatory speech made by any campaigner, the district electoral officer -- which in most cases is the DM -- and SP of the district should initiate simultaneous measures.
"After verifying the factual evidence, the district electoral officer and SP shall ensure that legal course of action on the FIR like filing of FIR under relevant sections is initiated without any delay...the action taken shall be brought to the notice of the CEO immediately and also to the public knowledge through media briefing," it said. The Commission has also directed the CEOs to promptly respond to media reports about such violations. It said organisers of the events should be asked in writing to provide with two copies of CDs carrying unedited versions of speeches of leaders.
The EC had recently admonished Siddaramaiah for his remarks and had banned Narendra Modi's close aide Amit Shah and SP leader Azam Khan from campaigning in Uttar Pradesh during elections for their controversial remarks.