M A I N   N E W S

George caught in code of conduct net
Booked for ‘bribing’ hospital inmate

Muzaffarpur, December 25
NDA Convener and JD (U) leader George Fernandes was today in trouble over the violation of Model Code of Conduct, with the authorities filing a case against him for alleged attempt to bribe voters after he paid money for a woman in a hospital in his Lok Sabha constituency here.

Superintendent of Police Amit Lodha said a case was filed under Section 171(b) of the IPC (attempts to induce voters) against the former Union Minister and some of his party workers following a complaint that they paid money to 40-year-old Sunita, who is said to have attempted to commit suicide on Thursday driven by poverty.

Sahara Samay TV channel showed pictures of Fernandes purportedly giving a Rs 500 note to a man by whose side was Sunita standing with her child in hand.

She is said to have jumped into a river from a bridge in the town with her two young children on Thursday. However, some fishermen rescued them, after which she was admitted to the hospital.

Mr Lodha said the money has been seized. District Magistrate S.K. Mishra said a case has been registered.

Elections have been announced in Bihar and the Model Code of Conduct is already in operation.

Reacting quickly to the development, RJD spokesman Shivanand Tiwari said the payment of money was in violation of the code of conduct and if Mr Fernandes had done that, the Election Commission should take stern action.

Denying the allegation, Mr Fernandes said on coming to learn about the incident of attempted suicide by the woman he went there with his party colleagues to see them. “No money has gone from my hands nor did I have any money,” he said adding the allegations were “a lie” and he would file a counter case.

A UNI report said that after his arrival from New Delhi, Mr Fernandes visited Muzaffarpur Sadar Hospital in his parliamentary constituency to inquire about the condition of the woman who tried to commit suicide yesterday by jumping into a river along with her two minor children following acute poverty.

Reacting to the allegations made against him, he said he found nothing wrong in extending help to a person who had taken recourse to the “ultimate step” due to starvation.

Mr Fernandes, who was on his way to Chapra to kick off the party’s election campaign, told newspersons that the woman was living in abject poverty and no one came forward to help her. Her husband was unable to earn a livelihood owing to ill health, Mr Fernandes said, and maintained it was his duty to help the family.

The ruling RJD alleged that it amounted to violation of the Model Code of Conduct, enforced in the state since December 17, as toeing the line of their leader, the supporters of Mr Fernandes also distributed money among other ailing patients admitted in the sadar hospital in Muzaffarpur last night.

The Election Commission had recently issued a show cause notice against Railways Minister and RJD chief Lalo Prasad for distributing money when the Model Code of Conduct was in force.

Bihar Law Minister and RJD spokesperson Shakeel Ahmad Khan said here that the act of the NDA convener was in violation of the Model Code of Conduct and wanted the Election Commission to take note of it. He also asked the BJP to make its stand clear on the issue in which its ally was involved.

Sunita Devi had tried to commit suicide by jumping into the river from Akharaghat bridge along with her two children. Sunita Devi reportedly said that she wanted to end her life along with her children due to poverty as her husband was unable to earn anything due to ill health.

Official sources said the woman tried to end her life following a family dispute but admitted that the family was facing poverty. — PTI & UNI


EC to discuss code violation report
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, December 25
A full meeting of the Election Commission would meet soon to discuss the report presented by K.J. Rao, the poll panel advisor sent by the Commission to inquire into the alleged violation of the Model Code of Conduct in Bihar and misuse of official machinery for the proposed rally in Patna.

The meeting is also likely to discuss the reply given by the Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) chief and Railways Minister Laloo Prasad Yadav on the alleged violation of the code. The report has reportedly recorded several instances of violations of the Model Code of Conduct by the ruling RJD as well as other parties.

A Special Observer of the Election Commission, Mr Rao had visited Bihar between December 21 and 23. Seven cases arising out of violation of the Model Code have already been filed against various parties.

“A factual report has been submitted to the Commission and it is for it to decide”, said Mr Rao.

He, however, refused to say anything on his findings.

The EC advisor, during his inquiry met a cross section of people, including government officials and businessmen, to inquire into the alleged misuse of the official machinery, expenses on hoardings, banners, posters and other preparations for the rally which was called off by the RJD chief Laloo Prasad, against whom the Commission directed filing of an FIR for his alleged attempt to bribe to voters by giving money.

Faced with the Election Commission’s threat of de-recognition of the RJD, Laloo Prasad had said yesterday that he had never violated the Model Code of Conduct enforced for the Assembly poll in Bihar.

“I even cancelled my rally which was to be held in Patna on December 23, as I was against causing embarrassment to the constitutional body,’’ Mr Prasad said after visiting the Nirvachan Sadan to give his reply to the notice served on him by the Commission on charges of violation of the Code of Conduct.

The EC had taken cognizance of some cash distributed by Mr Prasad to villagers in Bihar after the enforcement of the election code of conduct in the state.

Claiming neither he nor his partymen had violated the model code of conduct, Laloo sounded defensive ,saying “we have always respected the decisions of the Commission. We have never given any bribe to anyone.”

Taking suo motu action on the alleged distribution of money to electorate, the Commission had directed the Bihar Chief Electoral Officer K C Saha to file an FIR under Section 171(B) of the Indian Penal Code relating to the offence of bribery.

Meanwhile, the Commission has directed the District Magistrate and District Election Officer of Patna Gautam Goswami to return to duty, a day after he proceeded on long leave even as hectic administrative activities were on to prepare for the Assembly polls.

Mr Goswami, who had been appointed senior vice-president of the Sahara group, was expected to join the business house in the first week of January. He sent his leave application to the state government and the Election Commission through proper channel. In a move to strictly enforce the Code, the poll panel today issued directive on the defacement of properties.

It directed Chief Secretary, Chief Electoral Officer, district Election Officers, Returning Officers of Bihar, Jharkhand and Haryana to ensure that all political parties and candidates for the Assembly polls should comply with their respective states’ Prevention of Defacement of Properties Act.

The direction, issued by the Commission, says that indulging in defacement of properties — either public or private — should be dealt according to the prevailing law of the respective state.

As per the provisions of the relevant act, no property should be defaced by any political party or candidate by pasting posters, writing on walls and in any other manner. Defaulters can be prosecuted and sentenced to up to six months or fine of Rs 1,000 or both.

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