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Changes proposed in Election System In India

At: National Level Seminar on Election Reforms in India Vivekananda Law College, Puttur, Karnataka By: Sridhar Pabbisetty 99162 98421

Let us celebrate what is good
53, 6%
5, 1% 61, 7%

50-60 60-70 309, 38% 396, 48% 70-80 80-90 90-100

“India is the world’s youngest democracy.” Today, 54 percent of India’s population is below the age of 25. Over seven out of 10 Indians are below the age of 35. But do we have worlds youngest representatives? Let us look at lok sabha 14% below 40 7% above 70 11% of MPs are women

Voter Turn Out in all assembly elections held in 2011 Worlds Largest Democracy

Are we making the right progress as a nation?

Preamble of Indian Constitution
WE, THE PEOPLE OF INDIA, having solemnly resolved to constitute India into a SOVEREIGN SOCIALIST SECULAR DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC and to secure to all its citizens: • JUSTICE, social, economic and political; • LIBERTY, of thought, expression, belief, faith and worship; • EQUALITY of status and of opportunity; and to promote among them all • FRATERNITY assuring the dignity of the individual and the unity and integrity of the Nation;

Some age old wisdom
• All the wealth of the world cannot help one little village if the people are not taught to help themselves

Money Power
If a candidate is willing to spend ten times more than the prescribed ceiling, it is not out of philanthropy, but in the secure knowledge that he can earn ten times what he spends once he gets to the seat of power
- Chief Election Commissioner of India commenting on Karnataka Assembly Elections 2008 Very High (> Rs.20 cr) 51.7%

Assets of candidate and percentage of winners in 2008 Karnataka Elections: Low (< Rs.0.5 Medium (Rs. High (Rs.3 to cr) 0.5 to Rs.3 Cr) Rs. 20 cr) 6.5% 26.4% 35.5%

Election Financing
• Tends to drive campaign expenditure underground and foster a reliance on unaccounted funds or ‘‘black money’’ • Economic liberalization has not ended the government’s discretionary powers over resource allocation in numerous domains. • Flawed political party funding and election expenditure laws drive parties and politicians to misuse the government’s discretionary powers over resource allocation to raise funds for election campaigns and political parties.

Impacts for current system
• Expenditure ceilings appear to invite evasion. • Absence of public funding means that parties and candidates must raise and spend money on their own for each election. The combined effect of the ban on corporate donations in 1969 without an adequate legal source of funds. • The lack of any effective system of internal democracy, transparency, and accountability within parties reinforces corrupt fund-raising and the lack of financial accountability. • The Companies Act’s limit on corporate political contributions to parties (5% of average net profit over the past three years) may worsen the problem with corruption, despite the 2003 law’s introduction of tax deductibility of political donations. • Under the current system, party leadership has no incentive to raise funds through large numbers of small-sum donations, given the large sums needed and the high transaction costs involved in raising many small contributions.

• Trends from Karnataka elections 2004 and 2008

It is still unfortunate that we end up electing candidates who have serious cases pending against them

Organizations working towards better democracy


And many individuals working on various initiatives

Recommendations for Electoral Reforms
• Remove criminals from politics
– after charges have been framed by Court of Law of offences punishable for two years or more – any candidate charged with serious charges like murder, attempt to murder, rape, kidnapping, extortion, etc.

• Declaration of sources of income by candidates • Implement a multi-party system for appointments of the CEC and SEC (PM, Opposition, CJ, Speaker of LS, Deputy Chairperson of RS • Implement ceiling on centralized expenses of political parties during election period • The requirement for winning election should be “50% + 1 of the registered votes cast”

Recommendations for Electoral Reforms contd...
• Provide “None of the Above” (NOTA) option in the EVMs and if the highest number of voters are polled for NOTA then the following steps should be taken:
– No candidates should be declared as elected – Fresh election should be conducted, in which none of the earlier candidates should be allowed to contest

• Reduce the time provided for filing election expenses
– need for amendments to sections 78, 81 and 84 of the R.P. Act, 1951 from 30 to 20 so that petitions can be filed in 25 instead of 15 days

Recommendations for Electoral Reforms contd...
• Action against candidates who fail to file their election expenses • Legal sanction for the filing election petition against candidates who lose elections
– in terms of section 123 of the R.P. Act, 1951

• Strict penalties against those involved in electoral malpractices
– Electoral malpractices should be declared criminal offenses carrying a sentence of two years or more.

• Law against the use of excessive money in elections by candidates • Provision for verifying the declarations in the affidavits of the candidates • Prohibition of taking other offices after retirement of The Election Commissioners for atleast 5 years

Recommendations for political reforms
• Introduce provisions for inner-party democracy within political parties • Bring financial transparency in the accounts of political parties – also make them auditable by CAG appointed agencies • Regulate the registration and de-registration of political parties - Amendment of Sec. 29A of the R.P. Act, 1951 empowering the EC • Bring in a comprehensive bill to regulate working of political parties - inner functioning of the parties, including elections of office bearers, selection of candidates for elections • Declare Political parties as Public Authorities

Recommendations for political reforms contd..
• Annual report by MPs and MLAs • Affidavit information of candidates to be certified by Political Parties • Fast tracking of cases for MLAs/MPs • A separate body to decide the salaries and perks of elected representatives

Recommendations for new rules by Election Commission of India
• Make public the list of polling agents in advance • Include civil society representatives as observers during elections • Make election expense statements of the candidates/winners available through web • Appointment of the SEO from cadre of another state

Recommendations for new rules by ECI contd..
• Changes required in the affidavits:
– PAN declaration of candidates should be made mandatory – There should be a column in the affidavit wherein the candidates can declare any penalty levied on them with regard to taxes – A column asking for the source of income of candidates should be provided in the affidavit

• In the assets part the candidates should not just disclose his assets but also the assets of all his close relatives as per the Company Law. • Candidates should attach their IT returns with the affidavits filed by them. • Elections should be announced 6 months prior to elections and they should submit affidavits stating the expected and approximate amount to be spend in elections by them and of the source thereof.

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Additional Reading
• Available as downloads here •
– The Second Administrative Reforms Commission (2008) – Election Commission of India – Proposed Electoral Reforms (2004) – National Commission to review the Working of the Constitution (2001) – Law Commission Report on Reform of the Electoral Laws (1999) – A) Law Commission' draft for amendments to the Representation of People Act – Vohra Committee Report (1993) – Indrajit Gupta Committee on State Funding of Elections (1998) – Goswami Committee on Electrol Reforms (1990)