Election Commissioner Who Opposed Clean Chit To Modi-Shah Under Scanner For 'Undue Influence' In Power Ministry
The central government wrote to 11 public sector undertakings on Tuesday to check if Election Commissioner Ashok Lavasa had exercised “undue influence” during his tenure in the Ministry of Power from 2009 to 2013.
“It has been alleged that Shri Ashok Lavasa, IAS during his tenure in the Ministry of Power from September 2009 to December 2013 as JS/Additional Secretary/Special Secretary used his official position to exercise undue influence to benefit few companies/associate companies,” the letter to the PSUs dated August 29 read, reported The Indian Express.
The Power Ministry, in its letter, has annexed 14 companies in which Lavasa’s wife Novel Lavasa served as director. It has also attached a list of projects in which either Lavasa or his wife were involved. The PSUs include the National Thermal Power Corporation, the National Hydroelectric Power Corporation, the Rural Electrification Corporation and the Power Finance Corporation.
Lavasa’s Differences With EC
Ashok Lavasa made headlines in May when he disagreed with the Election Commission’s decisions with regard to violations of the Model Code of Conduct during the Lok Sabha elections.
He had differed with the two Commissioners including the Chief Election Commissioner in giving a clean chit to Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Home Minister Amit Shah on complaints related to violations of the Model Code of Conduct. He had also stated publicly that his opinion should be recorded in the final order. If the decisions were to be taken by the majority, he argued, the minority opinion should also be on the record. Otherwise, there would be no sense in dissenting, he said.
His plea was rejected by the Election Commission, and his opinion was not taken on record. The dispute came in the open after a letter by Lavasa, in which he said he was staying away from the meetings since “minority decisions” were not being recorded.
Ashok Lavasa retired as Finance Secretary before joining as the Election Commission. He is in line to be the Chief Election Commissioner after the current CEC’s term ends in April 2021. Earlier this year, the Income Tax department served notices to Novel Lavasa after investigating her Income Tax Returns for possible discrepancies.
Family Under IT Dept Scanner
Ashok Lavasa has become the fourth member of his family to face a vigilance or tax probe as his wife, sister and son have been under the Income Tax department’s scanner for months now for alleged non-declaration of income and assets.
Lavasa’s son Abir Lavasa’s company (Nourish Organic) and his sister Shakuntala Lavasa, a paediatrician, have received income tax notices.