A group of 66 former civil servants has written to the President expressing their anguish at the Election Commission of India (ECI), which they say is suffering from a crisis of credibility today.
The letter states that the independence, fairness, impartiality of the ECI, which has had a long and honourable record of holding free and fair elections despite the enormous challenges of scale and complexity, are perceived to be compromised today, thereby endangering the integrity of the electoral process which is the foundation of Indian democracy.
As a group, we have no affiliations with any political party and many in our group, over the past six decades, have been involved with the conduct of elections in India, the letter says.
Copies of the letter are also marked to the Chief Election Commissioner as well as other Election Commissioners.
The list of former civil servants includes Salahuddin Ahmed, Former Chief Secretary, Govt. of Rajasthan; S.P. Ambrose, Former Additional Secretary, Ministry of Shipping & Transport, GoI; N. Bala Baskar, former Principal Adviser (Finance), Ministry of External Affairs, GoI, Vappala Balachandran, Former Special Secretary, Cabinet Secretariat, GoI; Gopalan Balagopal, Former Special Secretary, Govt. of West Bengal; among others.
It says that they are distressed to note the blatant misuse and disregard of the Model Code of Conduct (MCC) by the ruling party at the Centre and the ECI’s reluctance to come down hard on these violations.
Enumerating the various instances of violation of MCC, it points out:
The letter says that any erosion in the people’s confidence in the fairness of the ECI has serious consequences for the future of Indian democracy. It concludes by appealing through the President, to the ECI, to conduct itself in a manner where its independence, fairness, impartiality are not questioned and to firmly exercise the broad mandate given to it under Article 324 of the Constitution of India to ensure that the voter is able to exercise her/his franchise without fear or favour.