Terming the Supreme Court judgement on debarring arrested persons from contesting polls as “praiseworthy”, Secretary of the Election Commission of India (ECI) said only candidates with a “clean image” must context elections, so that people’s faith in democracy is restored.

Mr. Naseem Zaidi, Secretary-ECI, addressing election officers in Agra on Saturday said the recent judgement of the apex court is praiseworthy and the Commission would like only those with a clean image to context the polls, so that people’s faith in democracy and the democratic process is retained.

Speaking at the Systematic Voter Education and Electoral Participation (SVEEP II), a two-day orientation programme of election officers from across the country, Mr. Zaidi said the ECI will clamp down on those persons belonging to political parties who entice voters by offering them money, gifts, liquor and other things.

The Commission has sent proposals to the Law Ministry seeking to make such overtures to eligible voters as cognisable offences, providing for arrest of those giving or taking such offers, he said.

The ECI Secretary said an all party meet has been fixed for August 12 to discuss these issues and to arrive at a consensus, which would then be implemented.

Mr. Zaidi said the Commission was also against paid news in the form of advertisements at the time of elections put up to “mislead the people”.

He said the Commission is ready to hold the Lok Sabha elections before May 31 next year.

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