New Delhi: Facing heat from the Election Commission for violating model code of conduct, Steel Minister Beni Prasad Verma was on Tuesday granted permission for personal hearing by the EC to explain his minority sub-quota remarks. The Union minister will have to appear before the court on February 24.

Verma was slapped with a notice by the EC for his Muslim sub-quota remark during election campaign in Kayamganj.

The concerned minister on Monday forwarded his reply on the notice. Citing the policy of the Congress, Beni in his letter stated that the remarks were on the lines of party’s manifesto.
He expressed regret over his sub-quota remarks but has contended that he did not violate the model code of conduct.

During his hearing on Friday, Beni is expected to explain to the Commission on why action should not be initiated against him for the violation of model code of conduct. Sources said, he had made a request to the EC in this regard to explain his position.

Verma is the second Union minister after Law Minister Salman Khurshid to get an EC notice for poll code violation over the sub-quota remarks.

Sources in the EC said that Beni is toeing the line of Law and Minority Affairs Minister Salman Khurshid, who was also issued a notice by the poll body over the Minorities sub-quota remarks.

Sources said the Election Commission had taken serious note of his comments, particularly for daring the poll body to take action against him.

The Commission, which examined the video recordings of Verma's speech, said it "is prima facie satisfied" that the Steel Minister, "by making the aforesaid statements, has violated the aforesaid provisions of the Model Code of Conduct".
The EC notice further states, "It is evident from the above statements of Beni Prasad Verma that he was well aware that by making such utterances, he was violating the model code of conduct and yet he deliberately and wilfully did the same."

The Commission asked Verma to explain his position by 5 pm on February 24, as to why action should not be taken against him for violating the provisions of Model Code of Conduct.