EC has suggested that ‘paid news’ be treated as an electoral offence
The electoral reforms, which were proposed by the Election Commission (EC) and subject to continuous discussion and debate for the last 15 years, have been finalised, and are currently awaiting the nod of the Law Commission for implementation, according to V.S. Sampath, Chief Election Commissioner (CEC).
Talking to journalists after holding a review meeting with Vellore District Collector P. Sankar and other revenue officials along with Praveen Kumar, Chief Electoral Officer, Tamil Nadu at the Collectorate here on Friday, Mr. Sampath said that the reforms were finalised by the EC after holding regional consultation meetings with a wide spectrum of people including lawyers, civil society members and representatives of non-governmental organisations in all the five regions of the country, viz., northern, southern, central, eastern and western regions at the initiative of the then Union Law Minister, Veerappa Moily.
The reforms were referred to the Law Commission since they involved amendments to the existing laws governing elections.
The CEC said that the reforms under consideration included the disqualification of candidates with criminal background from contesting the elections, making paid news an electoral offence and funding of parties contesting elections.
At present, even if there is prima facie evidence against them, persons who have committed heinous crimes such as rape and murder are able to contest elections, become MLAs and Ministers and frame laws for the country. “The Election Commission has suggested that persons against whom there is prima facie evidence of committing heinous crimes and against whom charge-sheets have been filed in courts must be disqualified from contesting elections.”