Scroll Staff

The release of this data comes amid several complaints, from citizens and political parties, that the EC has not been able to ensure free and fair elections.

The Election Commission on Saturday said that nearly 89% of the over 4.24 lakh complaints it received through its mobile application “Cvigil” – regarding violations of the Model Code of Conduct during the Lok Sabha elections – were resolved within 100 minutes each.

The code is a set of rules that all parties, candidates and governments are mandated to follow in the run-up to an election. It sets guardrails for speeches, rallies and other aspects of poll campaigning.

The Cvigil app allows citizens to register complaints of poll conduct violations with the Election Commission using geo-tagged videos and photographs.

In a statement on Saturday, the poll panel said that of the 4,24,317 complaints it received between March 16 and May 15, just 409 were pending resolution.

According to the Election Commission, 4,742 complaints were received under the category of “Use of Speakers/Religious or Communal Speeches”. It received 2,697 complaints under “Campaigning During Ban Period” and 7,022 for “Vehicle or Convoy Without Permission”.

The statement said that 3,24,228 complaints were reported under “Distribution of Cash, Liquor & Freebies” while 14,022 complaints were under the category “Posters/Banners Without Permission”.

As many 2,430 complaints were recorded for “Property Defacement” and 2,883 for “Display of Firearms/Intimidation”, the poll panel said.

The release of this data comes amid several complaints by citizens and political parties that the Election Commission has not been able to ensure a free and fair general election.

The poll body has ignored contentious statements made by the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party and Prime Minister Narendra Modi, and the Opposition Congress has alleged that it often took a view that there were violations by BJP leaders for making allegedly “divisive” and “communal” speeches.

Thousands of citizens had also written two letters to the Election Commission last month seeking action against Modi for his remarks that the Congress would distribute property among “infiltrators” if voted to power in the Lok Sabha elections.

At an election rally in Rajasthan on April 21, the prime minister had claimed that the Congress plans to distribute citizens’ private wealth among “infiltrators” and “those who have more children” if voted to power, a dog-whistle reference to Muslims.

Modi was purportedly referring to remarks that Congress leader Manmohan Singh had made on December 9, 2006, when he addressed a meeting of the National Development Council. Singh, the prime minister at the time, had said that the country’s priorities were to uplift the Scheduled Castes, Scheduled Tribes, Other Backward Classes, minorities and women and children.

Individual citizens have also urged the Election Commission to act against instances of hate speech, and many have resorted to writing emails, saying that the cVigil app does not work.

Jagdeep Chhokar, a founding member of the non-governmental organisation Association of Democratic Reforms, had told Scroll that there was “no way to ensure action, or a follow up, when it comes to email complaints”.

“Most of the time the EC [Election Commission] does not respond,” Chhokar said. “Some people then file Right to Information applications. But that process takes a month and so it does not have any impact during the elections.”

Meanwhile, the Delhi High Court on Monday dismissed a petition seeking the registration of a first information report against Modi for his alleged hate speech targeting Muslims on the campaign trail. The plea contended that despite complaints against the prime minister, the poll panel had not taken any action.

The petitioners added that the Election Commission has issued notices to several politicians such as Bharat Rashtra Samithi chief K Chandrashekar Rao, Aam Aadmi Party leader Atishi and Bharatiya Janata Party’s Dilip Ghosh, but not to Modi. A single notice issued by the poll panel in connection with the prime minister’s speeches was sent to BJP chief JP Nadda.

However, the court said that the petition was “misconceived” and devoid of merit. It added that the Election Commission would take an independent view on complaints against Modi, as per the law.

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