Government has made significant changes in the proposal to debar criminal candidates from contesting elections and other issues, says Chief Election Commissioner S.Y. Quraishi.
Expressing “disappointment” over the delay in bringing important legislations on electoral reforms and not passing them in the winter session, he hopes Parliament will make a beginning at least in the Budget session.
“We are disappointed that this (electoral reforms) did not happen in the winter session while 30-40 bills came and our bill did not come.
“The only benefit of doubt that needs to be given is that the government was kept busy with the Lokpal round the clock. I hope at least in the budget session the government keeps its promise and brings up this bill,” Mr. Quraishi told PTI in an interview.
He said Law Minister Salman Khurshid came to the Commission a third time and gave an assurance that the government will bring major reforms in the winter session that included proposals to debar criminals and transparency of political funding.
“And he asked us whether we are ok if other issues can be taken up later. We said yes that these issues are the most important and crucial. We will be happy if these are brought up. He has some modifications to our proposals and we are ok with those also,” he said.
Modifying the Commission’s proposals, government has raised the period from six months to one year the chargesheet filed against a candidate for heinous offences to bar them from contesting.
“Our formulation and also that of the Law Commission, which consists of jurists, has been that at least in those cases which are of heinous nature, not petty law and order agitations but of heinous offences like rape, murder, dacoity, kidnapping, etc., where the FIR has been registered six months before the election and court has framed the charges, the candidates can be barred.
“The court is an independent and judicial body and framing of charges is done with judicial application of mind even if prima facie at that stage. At least in those cases they should be barred,” the Commission had suggested.
On government’s modification, he said, “We said no problem. Then they said instead of six months or one year from FIR, if it is one year from the chargesheet. We said no problem but please make a beginning. But we are hoping that in the budget session it will come.”
He said the government has been saying that political consensus has been difficult on debarring criminals, which is also obvious because every party has its share of such candidates.
“And they say that false cases in politics by their rivals is a common practice. So it will be unfair to debar them on the basis of a possible false complaint.”