EC lets off Beni Prasad Verma with a warning

New Delhi: The Election Commission on Saturday let off Union Minister Beni Prasad Verma with a warning for his remarks on Muslim sub-quota and closed the model code of conduct violation case against him accepting his "remorse and sincere regret" for the utterances.

The Commission said it was ending the matter in view of the regrets expressed by the Steel Minister and in the wake of the complainant BJP deciding not to pursue the matter further.

"It is apparent that Shri Verma has not denied that he violated the model code of conduct and has expressed his unqualified regrets for the same.

"He has also shown his highest regard for the conduct of free and fair elections by the Commission and expressed his sincerest regrets, if any, of his comments in his impugned statement have caused anguish to the Commission", the EC said adding Verma "has, thus, shown his commitment to the cause of free and fair elections and also his remorse for violating the model code of conduct".

The EC order said the Commission "hopes and expects that Shri Beni Prasad Verma would be careful not to violate the model code of conduct in future and would be more circumspect in his public utterances during election campaigns when the atmosphere is already surcharged and any violation of model code of conduct may lead to serious consequences of promoting ill-will or disharmony among various sections of citizens".

While addressing a poll rally on the night of February 15 in Farukkabad in the presence of Congress general secretary Digvijay Singh and Union Law Minister Salman Khurshid, Verma had said "reservation for Muslims will be increased and if EC wants, it can now issue a notice to me."

The Union Minister was issued a show cause notice by EC on February 18 by the Election Commission over his remarks after holding that prima facie it was a violation of the model code of conduct and sought his reply. (more) PTI SKC

In his reply to the Commission, Verma, through his counsel Abhishek Singhvi, had said "I did not mean to cause any anguish to the learned Election Commission. I realize that I became emotional. Whatever I said was unintentional and I regret the same."

Verma, in his reply on February 20 to EC`s notice to him, said that "before responding to the notice on merits, I submit that I have always held the Election Commission of India in great esteem and I have the highest regard for the conduct of free and fair elections by the Commission.

"If any of my words have unintentionally caused any anguish to the Commission, I would respectfully urge the Commission to accept my sincerest regret for the same. I have never intended to insult or challenge the Commission and have dealt only with the larger issue of welfare of minorities", he had said.

The Commision also held that Ravi Shankar Prasad, appearing for complainant Shahnawaz Hussain of BJP and others, submitted though he had several points to make to rebut the earlier stand taken by Verma in his written reply of February 20, and to press the point that he "deliberately and willfully" violated the model code of conduct, he would, however, leave the matter to the Commission?s wisdom in view of the latest statement of Verma expressing his regret".