Electoral reforms is a must to enhance the quality of democracy in India. What are the suggested reforms by various commissions and committees and how far are they significant to make democracy successful?
- January 25, 2021
- Posted by: OptimizeIAS Team
- Category: DPS Topics
The definition of democracy is a form of government in which the common people hold political power and can rule either directly or through elected representatives. Electoral reform is change in electoral systems to improve how public desires are expressed in election results. That can include reforms of: Voting systems, such as proportional representation, a two-round system (runoff voting), instant-runoff voting (alternative voting, ranked-choice voting, or preferential voting)
ECI has nursed and strengthened the electoral processes of a nascent democracy. The successes have not been consistent or uniform
- 1982, electronic voting machines made a quiet trial entry in the by-election to the Parur Assembly constituency of Kerala. Chief Election Commissioner T.S. Krishnamurthy took the plunge and conducted the entire general election
- In 2009 by a comprehensive photo electoral roll; election cards reached 514 million voters in time for the general election and de-duplication technologies helped further eliminate bogus and duplicate entries.
- A Booth Level Officer was created to become the custodian of the electoral roll at each polling station, leading to constant door-to-door verification of electors. Myriad forms of voter assistance were built in on and prior to the Election Day.
- General and Expenditure Observers were supplemented by micro-observers to keep the poll day processes transparent. Video cameras began to record the polling and counting procedures. Through the strategy of “vulnerability mapping,” first tried on any scale in the Uttar Pradesh election of 2007, localities that for reasons of deliberate exclusion, accident or design did not turn up to vote, were identified and enabled to vote.
- The Commission developed a system of online communication (COMET) that made it possible to monitor every polling booth on the day of election. In the recent Himachal Pradesh election, there was real-time monitoring of polling at all 7,553 booths using GPS and a web-enabled facility through the Google search engine.
- A vital instrument of the Election Commission of India’s impartiality, the Model Code of Conduct, designed to neutralise the ‘lalbatti’ culture and level the playing field between candidates of the ruling party and those in opposition
- 1972, the Joint Parliamentary Committee on Amendments to Election Laws suggested that the state assume the burden of legitimate election expenses of candidates and political parties.
- In 1978, the Tarkunde Committee echoed the need for some electoral expenses being taken up by the government.
- The Dinesh Goswami Committee (1990) suggested state funding in kind.
- The Law Commission Report of 1999 pointed to partial state funding.
- In 2004, the President in his address to the Joint Session of Parliament announced the new government’s intent for state funding. .
- The statutory limits were increased in 2011 to broadly Rs. 40 lakhs for a parliamentary seat and Rs. 16 lakhs for an assembly election, levels of actual spending exceed these limits. The ECI does its best by posting as many as 2000 senior officers as observers during a parliamentary election
- The ECI has time and again written to the Government of India of the day to debar through legislation those against whom charges stand framed for heinous offences. However, parliamentary committees hold that such a provision is liable to misuse by parties in power seeking vendetta. They suggest special courts and speedy trials instead, but the recommendations have not yet been translated into action.
- RESTRICTION ON THE NUMBER OF SEATS FROM WHICH ONE MAY CONTEST As per the law as it stands at present [Sub-Section (7) of Section 33 of the Representation of the People Act, 1951], a person can contest a general election or a group of bye-elections or biennial elections from a maximum of two constituencies.
- The Commission is of the view that there should be clear provision to deal with cases of surrogate advertisements in print media. For this purpose, Section 127A of the Representation of the People Act, 1951 may be suitably amended, adding a new sub-Section (2A) to the effect that in the case of any advertisements / election matter for or against any political party or candidate in print media, during the election period, the name and address of the publisher should be given along with the matter / advertisement.
- The Commission recommends that the law should be amended to specifically provide for negative / neutral voting. For this purpose, Rules 22 and 49B of the Conduct of Election Rules, 1961 may be suitably amended adding a proviso that in the ballot paper and the particulars on the ballot unit, in the column relating to names of candidates, after the entry relating to the last candidate, there shall be a column None of the above, to enable a voter to reject all the candidates, if he chooses so.
Reforms yet to be taken
- Anti-defection law-post election reform
- same number of proposers for all contesting candidates – amendment of section 33 of the representation of the people act, 1951
- Making of false declaration in connection with elections to be an offence
- Rulemaking authority under the representation of the people act, 1950 and representation of the people act, 1951, should be conferred on the election commission, instead of on the central government, who should, however, be consulted by the election commission while framing any rule.
- registration and de-registration of political parties strengthening of existing provisions
Elections occupy a prominent place in the democratic government. It is a way through which people express and implement their political opinion and control the political organization of society. Hence it is essential that a timely reform is needed