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FAIRNESS AT PLAY :-
ELECTORAL REFORMS TO
REDUCE THE INFLUENCE
OF MONEY AND MUSCLE
POWER IN POLITICS
"...for the people, even if they are deceived for a time, in the
end generally come to detest those who have beguiled them
into any unworthy action." -- Aristotle, The Constitution of
“The ballot is stronger than the bullet.”
“In a democracy, someone who fails to get elected to
office can always console himself with the thought that
there was something not quite fair about it.”
― Thucydides, The History of the Peloponnesian War
WHAT IS AN ELECTORAL REFORM?
Electoral reform is change in electoral systems to improve how
public desires are expressed in election results. The electoral
system in any country should support and
strengthen the empowerment of the people of the country to
exercise the system to guarantee an equitable framework of
economic and social justice. That can include reforms of:
- Voting systems
- Vote counting procedures
- Rules about political parties
- Electoral constituencies
- Financing of candidates, etc., etc.
In India, the
been divided into
I - In the first part are
set out certain urgent
proposals for electoral
reforms in areas that
have not been taken up
in the past by the
Commission and which
have arisen due to
certain laws enacted or
based on certain
directions given by the
Supreme Court and the
II - In the second part,
the Commission has
reiterated some of the
pending proposals that
remain unresolved and
which, in no way, are
less important than the
proposals in the first
Why an Electoral Reform?
Largest Management Exercise
Dealing with Criminalization
is facing serious
Rampant vote-buying by
parties, especially in
southern India. Nearly a third of MPs - 158 of 543, to be precise
- in the parliament face criminal charges.
Seventy-four of them face serious charges such
as murder and abduction. There are more than
500 criminal cases against these lawmakers.
India's democracy is facing serious challenges
Twelve of the 205 MPs or 5% of the lawmakers in the
ruling Congress Party face criminal charges. The main
opposition BJP fares worse with 19 of 116 - or more than
16% - of its MPs facing charges. More than 60% of the
MPs belonging to two key regional parties, Samajwadi
Party and Bahujan Samaj Party - who profess to serve the
poor and the untouchables - face criminal charges.
more than 600 million
£8.3m) in cash in Tamil
Nadu in the run-up to
the state elections in
April. It believes that the
money was kept to buy
In an US embassy cable
leaked by WikiLeaks in March,
an American official was
quoted as saying that one
Tamil Nadu party inserted cash
and a voting slip instructing
which party to vote for in the
morning newspapers - more
innovative than handing out
money directly to voters. The
party concerned denies the
watchdogs believe that
candidates routinely under-
report or hide campaign
expenses. During the 2009
general elections, nearly
all of the 6753 candidates
officially declared that they
had spent between 45 to
55% of their expenses
After the recent state elections
- in three states and one union
territory - elected legislators
declared that that the average
amount of money spent in
their campaigns to be only
between 39% and 59% of their
limits in their official
declarations. A total of 76
legislators declared that they
did not spend any money on
public meetings and
India's most respected election watchdog Association
For Democratic Reforms (ADR) has rolled out a pointed
wish-list to clean up India's politics and target
the option of
for any of
To stop candidates
and parties seeking
votes on the basis of
caste, religion and to
candidate should be
declared a winner only
if he or she gets more
than 50% plus one
vote. When no
candidate gets the
required number of
votes, there should be
a run-off between the
top two candidates.
Any person against
whom charges have
been framed by a
court of law or
for two years or more
should not be allowed
to contest elections.
with serious crimes
like murder, rape,
extortion should be
India's politicians have
resisted this saying
regularly file false
cases against them.
Despite the clamor for
the state funding of
elections, it is still not
clear how much
elections cost in India.
Political parties do not
come clean on their
expenses, and until
there is a clearer
picture of how much
they spend, it will be
difficult to fix an
amount. So political
parties should give out
which should be also
available for public
TOP THREE MAJOR ELECTORAL REFORMS REQUIRED
Ban on Paid News – The election committee and the parties should together responsibly
agree to ban on paid news which could influence the voter. This is one of the best examples of
false usage of money.
Problem of Vote banks be addressed – Politics based on religion, caste, creed and gender
should be avoided and a party should not lure the voters by making these aspects of an
individual as their main tool. Parties should strictly be judged on the basis of its performance in
the last term.
‘Right To reject’ be granted – At this hour when none of the parties are able to meet the public
expectations, ‘Right to reject’ becomes a very effective tool for the masses to reject all the
parties and dissolve their right to vote conveying their unhappiness with the government.
However, this right has its own implications, as if all the parties are rejected with a majority,
then the entire money invested within the elections will go for a toss. Though we still believe
that this right is a need of the hour.
THE MANGO PEOPLE’S APPEAL
Section 8 (4) of the representation of the people act protected the ministers to serve the
parliament even after charge sheets are filed against them or are worst convicted. After
removal of section 8 (4) all the political parties should stop giving tickets to those with
criminal charges filed against them. This will help to eliminate corrupt and scornful
members of the parliament.
Setting up guidelines to propagate their election plans without influencing any caste,
creed and sect to create vote banks.
Submitting a detailed plan of the campaign to the election committee well in advance
before the elections to avoid any last minute changes which may lead to a rise in the pre
decided budget for each party.
The election committee to periodically monitor the spending's of the parties to avoid huge
debit’s from the government treasury.
It is expected from the parties to reveal their sources of funds for the election campaign
to avoid unnecessary corruption opportunities.
Avoid corporate funding to limit the probability of corruption and favoring by the parties.
The election committee and the participating parties should plan awareness campaigns
on the importance of each vote in the elections which may lead to a boost in the number
of people voting within the country.
1) Anti-Defection Law
2) Use of Common Electoral Rolls at Elections conducted by the Election
Commission and the State Election Commissions
3) Simplification of Procedure for Disqualification of a Person found Guilty
of Corrupt Practice
4) Same Number of Proposers for all Contesting Candidates –
Amendment of Section 33 of the Representation of People Act
5) Making of False Declaration in connection with Election to be made an
6) Rule Making Authority to be Vested in Election Commission
7) Registration and De-Registration of Political Parties – Strengthening
of Existing Provisions
RECENT SUPREME COURT’S DECISION
The Bench found it unconstitutional that convicted persons could be disqualified from contesting elections but could
continue to be Members of Parliament and State Legislatures once elected.
Section 8 of the RP Act deals with disqualification on conviction for certain offences: A person convicted of any
offence and sentenced to imprisonment for varying terms under Sections 8 (1) (2) and (3) shall be disqualified
from the date of conviction and shall continue to be disqualified for a further period of six years since his
release. But Section 8 (4) of the RP Act gives protection to MPs and MLAs as they can continue in office even
after conviction if an appeal is filed within three months.
Justice Patnaik said: “ The language of Articles 102(1) (e) and 191(1) (e) of the Constitution is such that the
disqualification for both a person to be chosen as a member of a House of Parliament or the State Legislature
and for a person to continue as a member of Parliament or the State Legislature has to be the same.”
The Bench said: “Section 8 (4) of the Act which carves out a saving in the case of sitting members of
Parliament or State Legislature from the disqualifications under sub-sections (1), (2) and (3) of Section 8 of the
Act or which defers the date on which the disqualification will take effect in the case of a sitting member of
Parliament or a State Legislature is beyond the powers conferred on Parliament by the Constitution.”
“If any sitting member of Parliament or a State Legislature is convicted of any of the offences mentioned in
sub-sections (1), (2) and (3) of Section 8 of the Act and by virtue of such conviction and/or sentence suffers
the disqualifications mentioned in sub-sections (1), (2) and (3) of Section 8 of the Act after the
pronouncement of this judgment, his membership of Parliament or the State Legislature, as the case may be,
will not be saved by subsection (4) of Section 8 of the Act which we have by this judgment declared as ultra
vires the Constitution notwithstanding that he files the appeal or revision against the conviction and /or
EXCLUSION OF POLITICAL PARTIES FROM RTI’S PURVIEW
By restricting the scope of RTI to official organs and excluding the political parties is to limit
the much needed power vested in the hands of the public as per democratic standards.
• The governments in this country are formed after elections contested on party basis. The political
parties impact the lives of the masses directly and indirectly in many ways. Even as political
parties, other than those in power, are not part of the government, they do come to wield directly
or indirectly influence on the exercise of governmental power. It would be ludicrous to expect that
transparency in all state organs can be ensured with the exclusion of the political parties, which, in
reality, control all the vital organs of the State.
The political parties also need to be well within the ambit of the RTI also because of
the phenomenal funding, donations and perks that they enjoy, often also at the state
expense like allotment of land, bungalows for its top ranking leaders, cars and security
paraphernalia. They cannot be expected to enjoy benefits of what belongs to the
people and not be accountable to them. Their funding from business houses and other
sources also needs to be brought into the public discourse because this offers the
public the information and knowledge about the likely tilt and inclination of these
parties vis-à-vis governance. Political parties are important public institutions that can
play a major role in bringing transparency in public life. By seeking to be excluded, they
are both setting a bad precedent and stonewalling transparency in public life.
"Before amending RTI Act to keep political parties out of its purview, government should
ensure that people may get required information concerning political parties from ECI
Commission and other concerned public-authorities under provisions of section 2(f) of RTI Act
THE LAST APPEAL
It is pivotal for the current scenario of electoral reforms to change, however, we should
not only concentrate on structural changes but also work to gain support from the
Target the rural crowd to spread awareness on the importance of a fundamental right to
Democracy must be preached and should not be limited to a mere word. Citizens should
be granted their ‘Right to reject’ with the required education, for people’s rule to prevail
in the county.
‘Vote Bank’ Politics should strictly be banned.
Election campaign should closely be monitored by the election committee members and
the parties should strictly adhere to the campaign guidelines.
Press council should formulate guidelines to cover the election campaign responsibly
and not give out vague comments or opinions which can indeed stir up a controversy.
Elections 2013 - 14
APPEALS BY CITIZENS : TARUKA SRIVASTAV
(STUDENTS OF XAVIER INSTITUTE OF COMMUNICATIONS,