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    • Fairness at Play: Introducing Electoral Reforms to Reduce the Influence of Money and Muscle Power in Politics REFORMERS GAURAV MAHESHWARI SURBHI GARG RITUBHAN GAUTAM MAYANK AGRAWAL ISHA RUSTAGI
    • Ajit Nath Ray was appointed as Chief Justice of India bypassing 5 seniority trail Former Union Minister convicted of murder in 12 years old case while still in office A senior leader of a national party accepted having spent 50 times of the maximum limit of expenditure cap Democracy is in a Silent Transition Phase… Screaming to be Heard…
    • Candidates with Criminal Records Party Debarment • Party accountable for candidates’ integrity • Micro-level scrutiny of probable candidates by the party • Candidature annulled only if proven guilty by the highest court of the land • No penalties imposed on the parent party IMPLEMENTATION • Disqualify any candidate accused of an offence punishable by imprisonment for 2 years or more, even when trial is pending, provided charges have been framed against him/ her by a competent court • Convicted candidates shall be eligible for fast track trial of his case • Debar the parent party from contesting from the particular constituency in the coming by-elections ADVANTAGES • Discourages parties from projecting candidates with dubious background and vested interests • Prevents deliberate delaying and manipulation of trials via exploitation of the bureaucratic framework by ‘law-makers’
    • Candidates with Criminal Records Democratization of Party • Creation of a ‘filter system’ within the party • Transparency in party operations • Nomination for party posts: discretion of party President • Candidate’s ability to consolidate votes overrides his actual credentials IMPLEMENTATION • Conduct regular elections within the party strictly in coherence with Election Commission norms • Appoint representative of Election Commission as observer for elections within the party ADVANTAGES • Provides equal opportunity to all members to rise through party ranks irrespective of money and muscle power • Throws light on the yardsticks employed by the party to choose its representatives
    • Neutrality of State During Elections • Introduction of impartial environment for elections • Avoidance of eleventh hour bureaucratic restructuring • Nomination for party posts: discretion of party President • Candidate’s ability to consolidate votes overrides his actual credentials IMPLEMENTATION • Relax incumbent government’s domestic authorities 3 months before the elections • Appoint a council comprising representatives of all parties and retired judges as the interim legislative authority The modalities of the suggested framework need to be minutely and exhaustively debated upon ADVANTAGES • Curbs the scope for disguised misuse of state resources for personal political agenda • Diminishes the unfair edge of people in power over their opponents Patronizing of State Resources • Apart from legislation, all powers remain intact during the election period
    • State Funding for Elections • Strict regulation of campaigning expenditure IMPLEMENTATION • Fund 75% of the total campaign expenditure for National and Regional parties from State treasury • Provide optional infrastructural support such as promotional advertisements for independent candidates • Bear the cost through 5% taxation of total donations collected by parties • Reclaim the funding in case the candidate receives less than 1/6th of the total votes ADVANTAGES • Ensures enforcement of expenditure cap on election campaigning as defined by Election Commission • Reduces the influence of money power, thereby giving independent candidates a fair chance to contest • Usual expenditure around 5 times of the prescribed limit (40 lakhs per constituency in Lok Sabha elections) • Chance of winning directly correlated with the assets ownership Unaccounted Funds
    • Empowering of Election Commission • Enhancing the stature of EC as a governing body for elections IMPLEMENTATION • Provide judiciary powers to Election Commission to investigate and deliver verdict against felonious candidates during election period • Instate the Commission with the right to deregister a party and frame rules to conduct elections • Ban the transfer of Election Commission officers as soon as general/ by- elections become due • Monitor and act upon inflammatory speeches of political leaders at local/ National level for at least 3 years period before election • Exercise strict vigilance over delimitation of constituencies ADVANTAGES • Ensures opportune actions against complaints at the time of elections • Curbs intentions to propagate communal hatred and polarize votes Election Commission: Parking Place for Bureaucrats • Semi-judiciary status to Election Commission at the time of elections • Dormant for most part of the election term
    • EC: A Community Combined Commission • Political awareness and training of citizens IMPLEMENTATION • Prosper organic relations with NGOs, educational institutions and other community groups to create awareness • Enlist the support of youth as well as senior citizens to bridge the gap between EC and community ADVANTAGES • Improves the credibility of EC via the large outreach of different segments of the community • Imparts political training to the future pillars of Indian Legislature Election Commission: Parking Place for Bureaucrats • Election Commission solely constituted by President on recommendations of the government • Close to zero interaction with the public
    • “Social Reform is the Mother of Electoral Reform” All black and white recommendations are futile without improvement in index of Social Reform Recommendations • Negative voting: Provide citizens with the right to deselect a candidate • Yearly audit of assets: Monitor the growth of assets of candidates in term • Index of Political Consciousness: Develop an index to gauge political awareness • Penalty for false declaration: Punish candidates in wake of false declaration
    • REFERENCES • Analysis of Criminal Financial Details of MPs of 15th Lok Sabha, National Election Watch and Association for Democratic Reforms (2009) • Ethics in Governance, Second Administrative Reforms Commission, Govt. of India (2007) • Financing of Election Campaigns, PRS Legislative Research (2008)