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Electoral Reforms Siva Prasad
Contents Introduction Challenges Issues involved in electoral politics in India Recent Concerns Issue of VVPATs Why increased voter turnouts in recent elections? Model code of conduct . . Conclusion . Electoral Reforms Law Commission Recommendations Recent Proposals by Election Commission Judiciary on Elections . .
ntroduction In India, elections are the most important and integral part of politics in the democratic system . A strong democracy can function only when the elections are free and fair without manipulation. . Electoral reforms and other measures have become imperative to overcome the threat to democracy and carry democratic process forward Various committees and commissions were set up which have examined our electoral system, election machinery as well as election process and suggested reforms. . Some of them are: Dinesh Goswami Committee on Electoral Reforms (1990) Vohra Committee (1993) Indrajit Gupta Committee on State Funding of Elections (1998)
Challenges .The apex court pointed out that there is a "gap" caused by the lack of a parliamentary law which transparently spells out the process of appointment of an election commissioner Presently, the government appoints election commissioners without consulting other political parties. The apex court said that the Article 324 mandates that the appointments to the EC are done as per the enabling law. But presently there is no law in place to govern the appointment to the EC Arbitrary appointments of election commissioners. Black money plays a huge role in elections and that parties attribute disproportionate parts of their funds to donations from volunteers. . .
. Disbursement of funds .Election related disputes and violence .Most of the reform proposals by the Election Commission have not been acted upon. The government's actions, if any, are not available in the public domain The flow of unaccounted money and muscle power during elections and lots of corruption in public life. The voting in elections to Lok Sabha and Assembly are optional in India, but it is compulsory in 33 countries of the world including Brazil, Australia and Egypt, etc. The Gujarat Local Authorities Law (Amendment) Act 2009 has made voting compulsory in local bodies' election. . . .
Issues involved in electoral politics in India The elections at present are not being held in ideal conditions because of enormous amount of money power and muscle power needed for winning the elections. . There are many factors on the basis of which elections is fought in India like poverty, casteism, communalism, criminalization of politics, poll violence, booth capturing, non-serious independent candidates, unemployment etc. Misuse of government machinery take different forms, such as use of government vehicles for canvassing, advertisements at the cost of government and public exchequer highlighting their achievements, disbursements out of the discretionary funds at the disposal of the ministers, etc, which gives an unfair advantage to the ruling party at the time of elections.
Non serious Independent candidates are largely floated by serious candidates either to cut sizeable portion of votes of rival candidates or to split the votes on caste lines or to have additional physical force at polling station and counting centers. ACTUAL FoR ME 2s LAPRS 25 LACHS
Recent Concerns . "Paid news' to be made a cognizable criminal offence. And whether there should be ban on opinion polls State funding of elections and a ban on corporate donations. A ceiling on expenditure by political parties to bring down the cost of elections. First-past-the-post system (candidate with the most votes in the constituency wins) in which the winner takes all * . . There is growing concern that the system can lead to majoritarianisrm System to be replaced by the proportional representation system which can ensure that every section of the citizenry gets due representation.
The PMs proposal for simultaneous elections. Some believe it is against India's federal polity, others believed it will go against the basic structure of the constitution. Abolition of the provision that allows a candidate to stand for election in more than one constituency. . Reservation for women, voting by NRIs and migrants and the need to make the model code of conduct more liberal.
Electoral Reforms Election Commission should have people neutral to all political parties. The Election Commissioners supervise and hold elections and play a greater role in strengthening democracy so their selection has to be made in the most transparent and fair manner. Money power or political funding in the election is the common phenomena which need to address. . . Introducing financial transparency and accountability in the working of the political parties. Bringing the political parties under the Right to Information (RTI) Act. .
The Central Information Commission (CIC) had said in a full bench decision in June 2013 that six national political parties were indeed 'public authorities' under the RTI Act as they fulfilled all conditions specified is Section 2(h) of the RTI which defines 'public authority' Electoral bonds will make 'invisible money' visible. These bonds will be bearer in character to keep the donar anonymous. . .Transparency in Electoral Funding is necessary The Budget proposed significant proposals to remove the limit of 7.5% on profits that a company can donate to a political party. The Budget also proposed to remove the requirement that the company making a donation to a political party discloses the name of the party and the amount donated. .
.Election Commission wants the paid news to be made electoral offence. The ruling parties should play key responsibilities in strengthen the role of Election Commission by enabling suitable laws and creating healthy political environment. . . The CEC and Election Commissioners shall be made accountable to the common people for their activities which incur wastage of public as well as donor money Necessary laws need to be made in this regard this can be done through Parliament. . All complaints, limitations, and inconsistencies of election laws, rules, orders, and ordinances must be identified and resolve with the group of law experts,
Law Commission Recommendations .The Law Commission recommended bringing political parties under the Right to Information (RTI) Act, 2005 . The Law Commission studied the issue in 1998-99 and presented its comprehensive assessment and proposals in its 170th report, titled Reform of the Electoral Laws The report said that, if democracy and accountability constitute the core of our constitutional system, the same concepts must also supply to and bind the political parties which are integral to parliamentary democracy. It is the political parties that form the government, man the Parliament and run the governance of the country .
Judiciarv on Elections In 2002, UOI vs ADR, Supreme Court directed that all the contesting candidates will have to furnish all personal information, including the criminal record at the time of filing nomination papers. .In 2013, SC held that under sec8(4) of RPA, 1951, a legislator shall be disqualified automatically from being a member of the house, if he is convicted and sentenced for 2 or more years of imprisonment in a court of law. In another judgment in 2013, SC gave the citizens -'Right to negative vote' during elections, which came to be known as NOTA (None of the above
lssue of VVPATs Previously, in a judgment, the Supreme Court had commended the Election Commission for taking a series of steps to introduce VVPATs. . The SC has also told the govt that holding that the paper trail is arn indispensable requirement of free and fair elections. Appreciating the EC's efforts, the court approved its plan to roll out VVPATs in phases till 2019. .More than three vears after the court's directive and despite 10 reminders from the EC, the govt has not released the requisite funds for VVPATs So far, the EC has just 52,000 machines (against the nearly 20 lakh required) which were deployed in the recent elections. .
Why increased voter turnouts in recent elections? . About 80% turnout in recent elections. Why? Not because of freebies as people take freebies from all parties but vote only one. Also large number of NOTA votes testifies that Not because of fear. Reason same as above . . Reason is: .Voting is a matter of pride . All (poor and rich) are equal inside polling booth as each vote has same For development No political influence on officials due to Modal code of conduct value
Model code of conduct The MCC is a set of norms for conduct and behavior on the part of the Parties and candidates, in particular. The MCC intends to provide a level playing field for all political parties, keep the campaign fair and healthy, avoid clashes and conflicts between parties, and ensure peace and order. . It aims to ensure that the ruling party, either at the Centre or in the states, does not misuse its official position to gain an unfair advantage in an election . This instrument is a major contribution of Indian electoral system to the cause of democracy
. The uniqueness of the MCC is the fact that this was a document .The origin of the MCC dates back to 1960 when the MCC started as a . The Code covered conducting of election meetings/processions, speeches, In 1962, Lok Sabha General Elections, the Election Commission that originated and evolved with the consensus of the political parties. small set of Dos and Don'ts for the Assembly election in Kerala in 1960. slogans, posters and placards. circulated this code to all the recognized political parties and the State Governments were requested to secure the acceptance of the Code by the Parties. Report received after the 1962 general elections showed that the Code was followed by and large . In 1967, the Code was followed in the Lok Sabha and Assembly elections.
. Legal Status for Model Code: Views of the Election Commission: . The Election Commission has taken a stand against granting of such status .According to the Commission bringing the MCC on the statute book will In our country, elections are conducted within a very limited time span to MCC only be counter-productive. according to a well laid down schedule. Normally, a general election in a State is completed in about 45 days, from the dav of announcement of the election schedule by the Commission, .Thus, the expedition and promptness in dealing with the cases of violation of the model code of conduct is of the essence,
o During general elections to House of People (Lok Sabha), the code o During general elections to the Legislative Assembly (Vidhan o During bye-elections, the code is applicable in the entire district or Applicability of MCC: is applicable throughout the country. Sabha), the code is applicable in the entire State. districts in which the constituency falls.
Conclusion . Election Commission plays a major in a democratic country like India Independent functioning of Election Commission is very much essential in this regard. An electoral reform is necessary for a healthy democracy so the appointment of election commissioner should be based on transparency. . The Election Commission should be more vigilant in overcoming its loopholes and limitations.
After all he gets to see him again only after five years!P