Congress protests against ED raids on Punjab CM’s kin in virtual interaction with CEC
Congress urged Election Commission to intervene and exercise its power under Article 324 of the Constitution of India and address the issue by taking stern actions against concerned ED officials
An AICC delegation comprising Randeep S. Surjewala, Dr Abhishek M. Singhvi, Harish Chaudhary, Devender Yadav, Ganesh Godiyal, Pranav Jha, Aman Panwar and others met the CEC virtually on Thursday to protest against the politically motivated raids by ED conducted with a view to malign and defame the CM and the incumbent Congress government in Punjab.
The delegation also reminded the CEC about the Model Code of Conduct violations by the Uttarakhand Government for back-dating and tampering of government records as also Representation of Peoples Act, 1951 in the state of Uttarakhand.
The Congress handed over a memorandum to the EC requesting it to intervene and exercise its power under Article 324 of the Constitution of India and address the issue by taking stern actions against ED officials conducting such ‘illegal and malafide’ raids.
Here is the full text of the memorandum:
You would recall that we, the Indian National Congress, approached this Hon’ble Commission during the 2019 Parliamentary Elections and brought to your attention the politically motivated raids which were being conducted on Congress workers and leaders all across the country misusing Central Government’s investigative agencies.
This Hon’ble Commission, while taking cognizance of our memorandums and in exercise of all appropriate and residue powers under Article 324 of the Constitution of India, had issued an advisory to the Central Government on the illegal, motivated and vendetta driven enforcement actions being undertaken by the Ministry of Finance, Department of Revenue, a month before the general elections.
It is unfortunate that despite a specific direction issued by this Hon’ble Commission, the Central Government continues to flout it with impunity as if they are baiting this Commission to profess that a premeditated Central Government is neither under the jurisdiction of this Commission nor does it need to adhere to any constitutional authority. The blatant misuse of Central Investigative Agencies for conducting politically motivated raids with the sole objective to publicly defame and malign the leaders of Indian National Congress, particularly the Congress Chief Minister in the state of Punjab, continues regardless of the Model Code of Conduct and with a view to illegally influence public opinion in the ongoing elections scheduled to be held on 20.02.2022.
On 07.03.2018, the Congress government in Punjab lodged a First Information Report No. 26/2018 against 34 individuals at Rahon Police Station (Shaheed Bhagat Singh Nagar) under Section 21 (1), 4(1) of the Mines and Minerals (Development and Regulation) Act, 1957 read with 379, 420, 465, 467, 468, 471 Indian Penal Code, 1860. It must be pointed out that no one from Sardar Charanjit Singh Channi’s family members or relatives or connected with him was named or arrayed as accused in the FIR.
Thereafter on 10.01.2019, when the chargesheet was filed against the 34 accused persons before the Ld. JMIC of Shaheed Bhagat Singh Nagar, it must be pointed out no charge or allegation was made involving Sardar Charanjit Singh Channi or his family members or his relatives or any person connected with him.
The fake case being built up by the Central BJP Government and Enforcement Directorate is that Mr. Kudrat Deep, an accused in the FIR (who has been discharged at the charge stage), is an acquaintance of Mr. Bhupinder Singh Honey and that he was laundering money with connection to Mr. Bhupinder Singh Honey. It is pertinent to note that Mr. Bhupinder Singh Honey is related to the Chief Minister of Punjab by virtue of being his sister-in-law’s son.
The case sought to be built up by the Investigative Agency is deliberately contrived and self-serving and designed to serve the interest of BJP and its allies, who are becoming irrelevant in the political landscape of Punjab. It is also a blatant and audacious abuse of state machinery by the Government of India, which categorically falls under the offence of “undue influence” as provided in the Representation of People Act, 1951 and the Indian Penal Code, 1860.
These politically motivated raids and misuse of Central Investigative Agencies are a direct and clear violation of the Hon’ble Commission’s direction/order dated 07.04.2019 which states as follows:
“This Election Commission strongly advises that all enforcement actions during the election period, even when conducted ruthlessly with a view to curb that blatant electoral malpractice (of using money power to influence voter behavior), be absolutely neutral, impartial and non- discriminatory. Further, in case of suspected use of such illicit money for electoral purposes, the Chief Electoral Officer should be kept suitably informed while the Model Code of Conduct is in force”
Model Code of Conduct
In view of the fact that Model Code of Conduct is presently in force in the State of Punjab, therefore the raids are even violative of Part VII of the Model Code of Conduct which expressly states:
“The party in power whether at the Centre or in the State concerned or in the State or States concerned, shall ensure that no cause is given for any complainant that it has used its official position for the purposes of its election campaign.”
Representation of People Act, 1951
“123. Corrupt practices.—The following shall be deemed to be corrupt practices for the purposes of this Act
(2) Undue influence, that is to say, any direct or indirect interference or attempt to interfere on the part of the candidate or his agent, or of any other person [with the consent of the candidate or his election agent], with the free exercise of any electoral right”
Indian Penal Code, 1860
This act of the officials carrying out a baseless and malicious raid during the elections also violates Section 171C of the Indian Penal Code which provides as follows:
171C. Undue influence at elections.—
(1) Whoever voluntarily interferes or attempts to interfere with the free exercise of any electoral right commits the offence of undue influence at an election.
(2) Without prejudice to the generality of the provisions of sub-section (1), whoever—
(a)threatens any candidate or voter, or any person in whom a candidate or voter is interested, with injury of any kind, or
... shall be deemed to interfere with free exercise of the electoral right of such candidate or voter, within the meaning of sub-section (1).
Now, there are certain facts and issues which are alarmingly clear from the present raids conducted on Mr. Bhupinder Singh Honey, a 28-year-old individual, who had recently returned to India after completing his studies from abroad;
Proximity to Elections – The raids have been timed to be crucially close to the 2022 Assembly elections for the State of Punjab, when clearly the FIR was registered in the year 2018. What was the Central BJP government and ED doing for 4 years is a valid question to be asked by the present Commission? Why have they suddenly woken up after a four year long slumber in the middle of the elections? Does this itself not prove malice and malafide.
Chief Minister of Incumbent INC Government targeted – Family members of Sardar Charanjit Singh Channi, a leader of the Indian National Congress, are being targeted in order to create a perception and influence electors into believing that Sardar Charanjit Singh Channi through his family members and the Indian National Congress is involved in the allegations of money laundering.
Malice and Malafide news stories planted by the ED against the Chief Minister and fake perception being created – Deliberate and malicious news is being selectively leaked and planted in the news media imputing motives at the Chief Minister, Sardar Charanjit Singh Channi. This sustained maligning campaign based on hearsay, malicious Whatsapp content and statements by BJP leaders is then being fueled to target the pristine image of the Chief Minister, who has arisen from an extremely humble background to the top post in the State by sheer hard work.
ED Raids are a revenge against failure of PM’s rally in Ferozepur on 05.01.2022 – A sustained attack has been launched by the Central Government and the BJP against Sardar Charanjit Singh Channi, Chief Minister of Punjab, since the day of Prime Minister’s rally in Ferozepur on 05.01.2022, when almost all 70,000 chairs were vacant and no one turned up for BJP’s rally. Even a 15-minute halt of PM’s car-cade owing to sudden protest by the farmers (which the Chief Minister has regretted) has been used to point out as if all the people of Punjab are Khalistanis and the responsibility for the same is of the Chief Minister, Sardar Charanjit Singh Channi. So much so that BJP’s Assam Chief Minister had publicly demanded on 12.01.2022, that Sardar Charanjit Singh Channi should be arrested and sent behind bars, therefore the present raids are nothing but a counter – action (taken within 14 days).
The Hon’ble Commission can come to only one conclusion that the pattern of raids on family members of the incumbent Chief Minister and unleashing of the maligning game, with ED being an active party, violates the aforementioned laws and needs to be addressed immediately. This is a brazen misuse of the official machinery and part of a larger pattern of malicious intimidation that is being done to directly influence the outcome in 5 election bound states.
This Hon’ble Commission must enforce what it commands. In light of the above, it’s important that this Hon’ble Commission intervenes and exercises its power under Article 324 of the Constitution of India and address this issue by taking stern actions against ED officials conducting such illegal and malafide raids and the consequent game to malign and defame.
We hope the Hon’ble Commission treats this matter with the urgency that it deserves.