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Important Electoral Reforms proposed by the Election Commission

23 Mar

De-criminalization of politics –

  • For preventing persons with criminal background from becoming legislators, theCommission has made a proposal for disqualifying (from contesting election) aperson against whom charges have been framed by a Court for an offencepunishable by imprisonment of 5 years or more.
  • Under the existing law (Section-8, ROP Act, 51) there is a disqualification once aperson is convicted and sentenced to imprisonment of two years or more (in thecase of certain offences mentioned in sub-sections (1) of Section-8, convictionitself leads to disqualification, even without any sentence of imprisonment). TheCommission’s proposal is for disqualification even prior to conviction, providedthe court has framed charges.
  • As a precaution against foisting false cases on the eve of election, it has beensuggested that only those cases in which charges are framed six months prior toan election should be taken into account for that election. Date on which proposal was made – 15th July, 1998. Reiterated in November, 1999, July, 2004 and October, 2006.

 Political parties reforms 

  • The Commission has suggested that legal provisions be made to regulate thefunctioning of political parties and the Commission should be empowered toregulate registration as well as de-registration of political parties.Date of proposal – 15th July, 1998.Reiterated in July, 2004 and in March and July, 2006.
  • The political parties should be legally required to get their accounts auditedannually. The audited accounts should be put in public domain. There should betransparency in the fund raising and expenditure of political parties.Date of proposal – 15th July, 1998, reiterated on 5th July, 2004
  • Income tax exemption for donations should be given only for those politicalparties which contest election and win seats in the Parliament/State Legislature.Date of proposal – 3rd March, 2006.

 Misuse of religion for electoral gain 

  • A Bill was introduced in the Lok Sabha in 1994 [R.P. (second amendment) Bill,1994], whereby an amendment was proposed providing for provision to question before a High Court, acts of misuse of religion by political parties. The Bill lapsed on the dissolution of the Lok Sabha in 1996. The Commission has proposed that the provision in that Bill should be considered again.Date of proposal –29th January, 2010.

 Amendment of law to make `paid news’ an electoral offence

  •  The Commission has been proposed amendment in the Representation ofPeople Act, 1951, to provide therein that publishing and abetting the publishingof `paid news’ for furthering the prospect of election of any candidate or forprejudicially affecting the prospect of election of any candidate be made anelectoral offence under chapter-III of Part-VII of Representation of People Act,1951 with punishment of a minimum of two years imprisonment. Date of proposal – 3rd February, 2011.

 Punishment for electoral offences to be enhanced- 

  • Undue influence and bribery at elections are electoral offences under Sections171B and 171C, respectively, of the IPC. These offences are non-cognizableoffences, with punishment provision of one year’s imprisonment, or fine, orboth.
  • Under Section 171-G, publishing false statement in connection with election withintent to affect the result of an election, is punishable with fine only.
  • Section 171 H provides that incurring or authorizing expenditure for promotingthe election prospects of a candidate is an offence. However, punishment for anoffence under this Section is a meager fine of Rs.500/-
  • These punishments were provided as far back as in 1920. Considering the gravityof the offences under the aforesaid sections in the context of free and fairelections, the punishments under all the four sections has been proposed to beenhanced and made cognizable.Date of proposal – February, 1992

 Government sponsored advertisements –

  • For six months prior to the date of expiry of the term of the House, there shouldbe a ban on advertisements on achievements of the Government.
  • • Advertisements/dissemination of information on poverty alleviation and healthrelated schemes could be exempted from the ban.Date of proposal – 5th July, 2004.

Prohibition of Campaign during the Last 48 Hours-

  • Section 126 of the Representation of the People Act, 1951, prohibitselectioneering activities by way of public meetings, public performance,processions, advertisements through cinematograph, television or similarapparatus during the period of 48 hours before the time fixed for conclusion ofpoll. However, this Section does not include print media. The Commission hasproposed that Section 126 should apply equally to the print media also.
  • The Commission has further proposed that house to house visits bycandidates/supporters should also be specifically prohibited during the saidperiod of 48 hours, to allow the electors period of tranquil to decide their option.Necessary amendments should be carried out in Section 126. Date of proposal – This proposal was made in the background note for the regional consultations on electoral reforms in December, 2010.4

Punishment for false affidavit by candidates –

  • Section -125A of R.P. Act, 51, provides that furnishing false information in theaffidavit filed by the candidate is an offence punishable by imprisonment uptosix months or with fine.
  • There is no clear provision for follow-up action in the event of candidates filing false affidavits.
  • There are several complaints of false statements in affidavits, false statementsmislead the electors.
  • In order to strengthen the disclosure provision, the Commission hasrecommended that Section-125A of R.P. Act, 51, should be amended to providethat any complaint regarding false statement in the affidavit filed by thecandidates in connection with the nomination paper shall be filed before theReturning Officer (RO) concerned within a period of 30 days from the date ofdeclaration of the election and that it shall be the responsibility of the RO to takeproper follow-up action Alternatively, complaint can lie directly to theMagistrate Court. Date of proposal – 3rd February, 2011

Negative/neutral voting –

  • In the ballot paper and on the ballot unit, after the particulars relating to the last candidate, there should be provisions for a column `none of the above’ to enablea voter to reject all candidates if he so desires. Date of proposal – 10th December, 2001.Reiterated in July, 2004.

Amendment of law to provide for filing of election petition even against defeated candidates on the ground of corrupt practice-

  • As per the existing law, election petition (EP) can be filed only for challenging anelection of the returned candidate (winner).
  • If a defeated candidate has indulged in corrupt practice, there is no provision forelection petition against such candidate.
  • Commission has recommended that the law should be amended to provide forfiling of EP in cases of commission of corrupt practice by a losing candidate aswell. Date of proposal –24th April, 2009.

Ban on transfer of election officers on the eve of election –

  • In the case of general election, there should be a ban against transferring anyelection related officer without the concurrence of the Commission for a period ofsix months prior to the expiry of the term of the House. Date of proposal – 15th July, 1998.Reiterated in July, 2004.

Rule making authority to be vested in the Commission –

  • The Commission should be given the power to frame rules under the R.P. Act, 1950 and1951. Date of proposal –15th July, 1998.

Totalizer for counting of votes –

  • The proposal is for amendment of the Rules to provide for the use of totalizer forcounting of votes at EVM elections.
  • Using totalizer , it would be possible to take out the results of votes polled in agroup of 14 EVMs together as against the present practice of counting votes pollingstation wise.
  • In such a system of counting, the trend of voting in individual polling station areaswould not be known. This will prevent intimidation and post election victimizationof electors.
  • The proposal has been referred to a parliamentary committee in 2009. Date of proposal –21st November, 2008.67

Source: http://eci.nic.in/eci_main/electoral_ref.pdf

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Posted by on March 23, 2014 in My Success Stories

 

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