New Delhi: A group of 'concerned citizens', comprising civil servants, defence officers, judges, academicians, and professionals, have written to President Ram Nath Kovind, stating that the open letter penned by retired civil servants on the functioning of the Election Commission (EC) is giving rise to a suspicion that a "deliberate attempt is being made by groups with vested interests, to denigrate such institutions of democracy by undermining their position."
"Slurs being laid against the Election Commission of India, casting aspersions on its neutrality and ability to hold free and fair elections appears to be a part of the larger design to influence its decision making and to make it conform to a particular line of behaviour and thought," the letter read.
"It has been stated in the open letter by the retired civil servants that the Election Commission is suffering from a crisis of credibility, and its independence has been compromised. They state that this is the perception of the country. However, we beg to submit that these perceptions are only of a small group of people, who may be having a partisan interest in propagating such a view," the group claimed.
Without naming the biopic 'PM Narendra Modi' in the letter, the group alleged that the letter penned down by retired civil servants have "influenced" the decision of the EC in banning the biopic.
"The very people who have cast aspersions on the independence of the Election Commission appear to have succeeded in influencing the decision of the Commission, in banning a biopic made by an independent producer. It may be noted that the decision by the Election Commission was delivered
only after the release of the open letter by this group of civil servants," the letter to the President read.
They also claimed that the same retired civil servants also attempted to block a web series revolving around the life of the incumbent Prime Minister.
"Now, the same retired civil servants, through their open letter to your hon'ble self, are trying to stop a ten-part web series "Modi: A Common Man's Journey," of which five episodes have already been screened before the model code of conduct came into effect. This again amounts to a violation of Constitutional rights and depriving certain people of their freedom of expression.," the letter read.
"We do hope that the Election Commission takes note of such tactics being used by certain groups with vested interests, " it added.
The 'citizens' also slammed the retired civil servants for raking up the EVM issue and demanding proper implementation of VVPAT-based audits of EVMs in the ongoing elections.
"The signatories to the open letter have commented on the need for the proper implementation of VVPAT based audits of EVMs in the forthcoming elections and have raised doubts over the integrity of the Election Commissions and of the EVMs. This is unfortunate and smacks of partisan behaviour. It also raises concerns that the signatories, by writing a letter to the President of India, have ipso facto attempted to influence the decision of the Hon'ble Apex Court, which has now examined the case. It would be interesting to flag here that no doubts were raised on the efficacy of the EVMs by these civil servants when the Opposition parties won electoral victories in a few states which were held before the General elections. This issue has been now already decided by the Hon'ble Apex Court."
In a concluding note, the officials said, "We are deeply pained that a few retired civil servants, who should have known better, have chosen to slander the Election Commission and are attempting through such slander, to influence its decisions. It amounts to a smear campaign,
designed to weaken India's well tested constitutional bodies. One wonders on whose behest such a partisan approach is being taken. Needless to say, unfounded allegations and slander campaigns do little to promote the cause of democracy."...