The Election Commission on Friday sought immediate implementation of the proposed electoral reforms relating to criminalisation of politics, particularly banning candidates with criminal background from contesting polls. The proposal, sent by the EC on July 15, 1998, is still pending with the government.

Chief Election Commissioner V.S. Sampath, replying to a question, told journalists here that: “We want it [implementation of the proposal] immediately”.

“The EC’s view on banning criminals from contesting [polls] is one of the oldest in the country, as early as 1998. About 15 years back, the EC has made the proposals to the government,” he said.

“Not only those who are convicted, those who are facing serious criminal charges on heinous affairs, should also be barred from contesting the election. We’ve been pursuing and hoping for action,” Mr. Sampath said.

The proposal for electoral reforms, which was reiterated by the EC to the government in November, 1999, July, 2004 and October, 2006, reads: “For preventing persons with criminal background from becoming legislators, the EC has made a proposal for disqualifying [from contesting election] a person against whom charges have been framed by a court for an offence punishable by imprisonment of 5 years or more.”

“Under the existing law (Section-8, The Representation of the People Act, 51) there is a disqualification once a person is convicted and sentenced to imprisonment of two years or more [in the case of certain offences mentioned in sub-sections (1) of Section-8, conviction itself leads to disqualification, even without any sentence of imprisonment]. The Commission’s proposal is for disqualification even prior to conviction, provided the court has framed charges.”

The proposal further reads: “As a precaution against foisting false cases on the eve of election, it has been suggested that only those cases in which charges are framed six months prior to an election should be taken into account for that election.”

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