The Election Commission today (January 29) ordered poll authorities in Goa to register a police complaint against Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal for his remarks about bribes made at a poll rally in the state.
The poll body also termed as "scurrilous" the AAP leader's claim that the Commission is encouraging bribery by restraining him from uttering such statements.
The poll body said the First Information Report (FIR)/complaint be lodged against the AAP leader under provisions of the Representation of the People Act dealing with bribing voters and relevant sections of the IPC.
"Being Chief Minister of Delhi and a star campaigner of AAP in Goa, he is expected to conduct in an exemplary manner in election campaigns in a law abiding manner so as to be a role model for others to emulate but he has on several occasions again violated provisions of MCC by breaking his assurance to EC...
"The Commission directs that necessary legal action be initiated by filing an FIR/complaint against Arvind Kejriwal for the statements...Compliance report in this regard should be sent to the Commission latest by 3.00 PM on January 31," the poll panel said.
The Commission recalled that it has censured Kejriwal for violating the provisions of MCC and expected him to be more circumspect in public utterances during election time.
"Arvind Kejriwal has again written a letter... Stating therein that he is not abetting bribery by appealing to voters to accept money from any party but to vote in favour of Jharu (AAP)... He stated that the Commission is encouraging bribery by refraining him from uttering such statements.
"These submissions being baseless and scurrilous are totally unjustified in the light of the provisions of law on bribery and are not acceptable to the Commission," the Commission said.
While directing the Chief Electoral Officer of Goa to lodge FIR/complaint against Kejriwal, the Commission also responded to his letter in which he had asked that he be allowed to raise issue of voters being bribed.
"The Commission is quite concerned about your conduct, public utterances and demeanour. Even after being reprimanded by the Commission...You are still continuing with your statements of instigating voters to take money from other parties.
"Instead of making wild allegations, you are most welcome to adduce any evidence of distribution of black money...," the letter to the AAP leader said.
The poll panel once again directed him "not to indulge in making any further statements which directly or indirectly instigate voters" in accepting money.
It warned of "stern action" if Kejriwal continued with his statements on the issue.
In a statement, the Aam Aadmi Party said the Election Commission has directed Kejriwal not to make any further statements in the reference to his bribery remarks.
The party said, the order "does not convey that any criminal case has been registered against Kejriwal".
"Rather it is being highlighted that section 171(b) which defines the offence of bribery in the Indian Penal Code and its punishment defined under Section 171(e) of IPC, is not only a non-cognizable offence, but is also bailable. So being a non-cognizable offence no FIR can be registered for this particular offence," the party said in a statement.
The party said Kejriwal's statement does not amount to any offence. "We have decided to avail all legal remedies available after any order is communicated to us or comes to our notice," the party said.
The party hit out at the poll panel again, this time questioning its independence and targeting Election Commissioner A K Joti.
"Election Commissioner Joti never worked outside Gujarat in his entire career. A 1975-batch IAS officer, Joti retired as chief secretary in January 2013. Is Election Commission impartial & independent? One of the commissioners was chief secretary of Gujarat before he retired in 2013.
"Within 24 hours of PM Modi dictating criticism of EC is not acceptable, EC orders registration of FIR against @ArvindKejriwal coincidence?" Nagender Sharma, Media Advisor to Kejriwal, said in a series of tweets.