Monday, October 13, 2014

Major Committees on Electoral Reforms and their Recommendations in India! and electoral reforms have been introduced in Indian electoral system in the last few years:

Major Committees on Electoral Reforms and their Recommendations in India! and electoral reforms have been introduced in Indian electoral system in the last few years: 

Jaya Prakash Narayan Committee:

In 1974, Jaya Prakash Narayan headed a committee consisting of EPW. Decosta, A.G. Noorani, R. D. Desai, PH. Mavlankar, M. R. Masani and V. M. Tarkunde to make recommendations on electoral process or electoral reforms.
The committee suggested to change some criteria in the electoral processes. They are as follows:
a. To change in the procedure of appointment of the Chief-Election Commissioner;
b. To elect three-member Election Commission;
c. To reduce the voting age from 21 to 18 years; and
d. The television and radio should be placed under an independent corporation.

Dinesh Goswami Committee:

In 1990, Dinesh Goswami Headed a Committee made the following recommendations;
a. The ordering of re-poll or countermanding should be not only be on the report of the returning officer, but also otherwise and, also to give the Election Commission the requisite powers to appoint investigating agencies, prosecuting agencies and constitution of special courts.
b. There is a need for an amendment to the anti-defection law to restrict disqualification only to those cases, where an elected member voluntarily gives up his membership of the political party, or when he votes or abstain from voting contrary to party whips, directions etc. only in respect of motion of vote of confidence. The question of disqualification of members should not be decided by the speaker or the Chairman of the concerned House.
c. Changes in the voting pattern and shift to proportional representation of the list system, instead of present voting system should be made (However, this matter was to be further discussed amongst exports)
d. There should be fresh delimitation on the basis of 1981 census and there should be a provision for rotation of reserved seats for Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes.
e. No candidates should be allowed to contest an election from more than two constituencies. The age of Candidates for assembly seats should be reduced to 21 and for the Council to 25.
f. To discourage non-serious candidates, the security deposit for Lok Sabha should be increased to Rs. 5000 and for Assembly it should be increased to Rs. 2500. The amount should be forfeited if the candidate fails to secure one fourth of the total votes. The member of proposals to nomination should also be increased.
g. A model code of conduct be framed which would include issues relating to-the use of official machinery, transport, media, funds etc.
h. There should be a ban on transfer of officials and staff concerted with the elections. The Commission and the Central Government should continue the periodic revision of election expenses in consulta­tion with the Election Commission. There should be a six month time limit for holding bye-elections.
i. Army and Para-military personnel, diplomats and others placed outside India should be allowed proxy voting.
j. Extensive restructuring of the accounting of election expenses is needed.
k. Monitoring of expenses should be undertaken by the Election Commission, and a speedy trial of election disputes through the help of adhoc judges should be ensured.
l. There should be provision to punish plying mechanically-propelled vehicles, carrying lethal weapons and fire arms or distributing liquor on, the polling day.
m. Electronic voting machines should be used to put an end to manipulating and tempering.

Jeevan Reddy Committee:

The Justice Jeevan Reddy has proposed far Reaching Electoral Reforms. The Following are the Highlights:
a. The Commission advocated a total ban on splits and mergers of political parties during the term of the Lok Sabha or Legislative Assembly.
b. Once a member has been elected on a ticket of a particular recognized party, then he should remain in that party till the dissolution of the House or till the end of his membership by resignation or otherwise.
c. The Commission has recommended an adequate representation.
d. To discourage non-serious persons from contesting elections, the Commission has recommended a steep ten-fold hike in the deposits of independent and non-recognized party candidates.
e. To curb criminalisation of politics, the Commission has suggested that a person should be disqualified from contesting elections to the Lok Sabha or an Assembly if a court has ordered framing of charges in respect of offences listed in the Representation of the People Act, 1951.

Tarkunde Committee:

In August 1974, Jaya Prakash Narayan on behalf of the Citizen’s for Democracy appointed a committee V.M. Tarkunde, M.R. Masani, P.G. Mavalankar, A.G. Noorani, R.D. Desai and E. PW. Decosta.
It is known as Tarkunde Committee. The committee made the following recommendations:
a. The election Commission should be a three member body.
b. The minimum age for voting should be 18 years.
c. The TV and Radio should be placed under the control of autonomous statutory corporation.
d. The committee recommended the formation of voter’s council in as many constituencies as possible which can help in free and fair elections.

The following electoral reforms have been introduced in Indian electoral system in the last few years: 

1. Lowering of Voting Age:

The Constitution (Sixty-first Amendment) Act, 1988 amends Article 326 by substitutes the words ’18 years’ for ’21 years’. This came into force on 28 March, 1989.

2. Deputation to Election Commission:

Under the Representation of the Peoples (Amendment) Act, 1988 a new section 13CC was inserted which provides that officers or staff engaged in preparation, revision and correction of electoral rolls for elections shall be deemed to be on deputation of Election Commission for the period of such employment and such personnel shall during that period, be subject to control, superintendence and discipline of Election Commission.

3. Increase in Number of proposers:

Number of electors who are required to sign as proposers in nomination papers for elections to Council of States and State Legislative Council has been increased to ten per cent of the electors of the constituency or ten such electors, whichever is less, to prevent frivolous candidates.

4. Electronic Voting Machine:

The Representation of the Peoples Act, 1951, was amended to facilitate use of electronic voting machines in elections. Electronic Voting Machines (EVMs) were first used in November, 1998 in various constituencies in the State elections of Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh and Delhi. EVMs have been widely used in the Fifteenth Lok Sabha Elections in 2009.

5. Booth Capturing:

Section 58A has been inserted in the Representation of the Peoples Act, 1951 by Act 1 of 1989 providing for adjournment of poll or countermanding of elections because of booth capturing. Booth capturing has been defined in Section 135 A of the Representation of the Peoples Act, 1951.
Election Commission on such report may either declare the poll at the particular polling station as void and appoint a date for fresh poll or countermand election in that constituency.

6. Disqualification on Conviction under the Prevention of Insults to National Honour Act, 1971:

Any conviction under Section 2 (offence of insulting the Indian National Flag or the Constitution of India) or Section 3 (offence of preventing singing of National Anthem) of the Prevention of Insults to National Honour Act, 1971 shall hereafter entail disqualification for contesting elections to Parliament and State Legislatures for a period of six years from the date of such conviction.

7. Increase in Security Deposits and Number of Prosposers:

The amount of security deposit which a candidate at an election to the House of the People or a State Legislative Assembly has to make has been enhanced as a measure to check the multiplicity of non-serious candidates.
In the case of an election to the House of the People, the amount of security deposit has been increased from Rs. 500 to Rs. 10,000 for the general candidate and from Rs 250 to Rs. 5,000 for a candidate who is a member of a Scheduled Caste or Scheduled Tribe.
In the case of elections to a State Legislative Assembly, the candidates will have to make a deposit of Rs. 5,000 if they are. general candidates and Rs. 2,500 if they belong to a Scheduled Caste or Scheduled Tribe instead of Rs. 250 and Rs. 125 respectively as was being previously deposited by them.
The amended law further provides that the nomination of a candidate in a Parliamentary or Assembly constituency should be subscribed by 10 electors of the constituency as prospers, if the candidate has not been set up by a recognised National or State Party.

8. Restriction on Contesting Election from More than Two Constituencies:

A candidate shall hereafter not be eligible to contest election from more than two Parliamentary or Assembly con­stituencies at a general election or at the bye-elections which are held simultaneously. Similar restrictions will apply for biennial-elections and bye-elections to the Council of States and State legislative councils.

9. Listing of Names of Candidates:

For the purpose of listing of names of candidates, they shall be classified as (i) candidates of recognised political parties, (ii) candidates of registered- unrecognised political parties, and (iii) other (independent) candidate. Their names in the list of contesting candidates and in the ballot papers will now appear separately in the above order and in each category they will be arranged in alphabetical order.

10. Death of a Candidate:

Previously, the election was countermanded on the death of a contesting candidate. In future, no election will be countermanded on the death of a contesting candidate. If the deceased candidate, however, was set up by a recognised National or State party, the party concerned will be given an option to nominate another candidate within seven days of the issue of a notice to that effect to the party concerned by the Election Commission.

11. Prohibition of Going Armed to or Near a Polling Station:

Going armed with any kind of arms as defined in Arms Act. 1959 within the neighbourhood of a polling station is now a cognizable offence punishable with imprisonment upto two years or with fine or with both.

12. Grant of Paid Holiday to Employees on the Day of Poll:

All registered electors who are employed in any business, trade industrial undertaking or any other establishment shall be en­titled to a paid holiday on the day of poll. Even the daily wagers will receive their wages for the said day.

13. Prohibition on Sale, etc., of Liquor:

No liquor or other intoxicants shall be sold of given or distributed at any shop, eating place, hotel or any other place, whether public or private, within a polling area during the period of 48 hours ending with the hour fixed for the conclusion of poll.

14. Time Limit for Holding Bye-elections:

Bye-elections to any House of Parliament or a State Legislature will now be held within six months of occurrence of the vacancy in the House. However, this stipulation will not apply where the remainder of the term of the member whose vacancy is to be filled is less than one year or where the Election Commission, in consultation with the Central Government, certifies that it is difficult to hold the bye-election within the said period.
The President issued an ordinance on 5 June 1997, called the Presidential and Vice-Presidential Elections (Amendment) Ordinance 1997 whereby number of proposers and seconders for contesting election to the office of the President of India was increased to fifty each in place often; number of electors as proposers and seconders for contesting Vice-Presidential election was increased to 20 each in place of five. The amount of security deposit has been increased to Rs. 15,000 in place of Rs. 2,500 for contesting election to the offices of President and Vice- President.

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