The Election Commission (EC) has rejected Jharkhand Chief Minister Hemant Soren’s request to disclose his opinion shared with the state governor in the disqualification case against him.
Soren’s legal counsel had written to the Election Commission on September 15 saying that the hearings before the Election Panel were judicial, hence a copy of the opinion submitted to Governor Ramesh Bais should be shared with his client.
In response, the Election Commission said that any communication between the Election Commission and the Governor is “privileged” under Article 192(2) of the Constitution and that disclosure of the same before any order is passed by the Governor is a “constitutional right”. shall be tantamount to breach”.
The Commission referred to a recent case before the Supreme Court (DD Thaisi v Election Commission of India) regarding the opinion of the Election Commission on a complaint seeking disqualification of 12 BJP MLAs from Manipur Vidhan Sabha. In this case, the Election Commission has said, the Supreme Court did not order disclosure of its opinion after the counsel for the election panel informed the court that disclosure of the privileged communication would be improper.
The Election Commission also said that under Section 192(2) any document relating to the reference received from the Governor is also exempt from disclosure under the RTI Act unless a final order is passed by the Governor.
On August 25, the Election Panel, in its opinion sent to Bais, recommended disqualification of Soren under Section 9A of the Representation of the People Act, 1951, for allegedly allotting himself a stone mining lease last year. had misused his position. Section 9A prohibits the elected representatives from entering into any agreement with the Government for “supply of goods” or “execution of any work performed by it”.
The state is in political turmoil as Bais has not officially informed the state government of the Election Commission’s view on Soren’s eligibility to continue as an MLA. Meanwhile, the JMM has accused the BJP of attempts to poach MLAs from the ruling alliance.
Before writing the letter to the Election Commission, the party had asked the Governor to pronounce his decision based on the commission’s opinion. The JMM’s memorandum to the governor said that the “alleged selective leak from your (governor’s) office” on the issue has created “a situation of chaos, confusion and uncertainty, which disturbs the administration and governance of the state”.
“It also encourages political strife to destabilize the democratically elected government headed by CM Soren through illegal means… The chief minister’s incapacity, if any, will have no impact on the government. .”