New Delhi: The Election Commission (EC) of India is going ahead with plans to build a campus for the year-old International Institute of Democracy and Election Management (IIDEM) without having sought the prior approval of the law ministry.
A detailed project report (DPR) is being drawn up by the EC based on which approval will be sought, although the land has already been acquired.
The issue was at the centre of a spat between former chief election commissioner (CEC) S.Y. Quraishi and law minister Salman Khurshid.
EC has bought a five-acre plot in Dwarka in Delhi for around Rs 7 crore, where it plans to construct the institute, which is currently functioning at Nirvachan Sadan, its headquarters.
The Election Commission
In a continuing spat between the ex election commissioner S Y Qureshi & Law minister Salman Khurshid, the Election commission has bought land to build it’s center despite approval from the minister.
C.P. Kukreja Associates has been appointed for “providing comprehensive architectural consultancy services”. The finance ministry had earlier sanctioned around Rs 50 crore for setting up the institute.
“IIDEM was set up without the permission of the law ministry,” said an EC official, who didn’t want to be named due to the sensitive nature of the issue. “Any permanent liability of the government should require its permission. The overall cost of setting up the institute is around Rs 150 crore. Our budget is part of the law ministry. A detailed project report (DPR) is now being prepared for seeking approval.”
According to information available on the commission’s website, the institute’s campus will have training halls, conference rooms, guest rooms, an auditorium and hostels, requiring around 125,000 sq. ft of space. The institute will need around Rs 10 crore per year towards expenditure such as staff salary, travel, training, workshops and curriculum development.
V.S. Sampath, the new chief election commissioner (CEC), confirmed that the land had been bought for the institute.
In response to a question about government permission, he said, “EC will never do any thing which is irregular or out of the way.”
IIDEM will have four components, according to a 17 June, 2011, press statement. “These are training and capacity development, voter education and civic participation, research, innovation and documentation and international projects and technical collaboration,” the statement said. “The institute will be a national and international hub for exchange of good practices in election management.”
While Quraishi declined to comment on the issue, Khurshid didn’t respond to phone calls made or messages left on his cellphone.
There had been an earlier proposal to register the institute as a society under the Societies Registration Act, 1860, but after consultation with the department of expenditure and ministry of law and justice, this suggestion was dropped.
“The institute is being developed in collaboration with the government of India, the United Nations, the Commonwealth and inter-governmental organizations such as Sweden-based International Institute for Democracy and Electoral Assistance (IDEA). The 54-member Commonwealth group has proposed to set up a resource centre for its member nations at IIDEM,” the June statement said.