Urges government to take up electoral reforms

Asking the government to take up electoral reforms in the coming session of Parliament, Chief Election Commissioner S.Y. Quraishi on Sunday said the time had come to consider the ‘Right to Reject' proposal.

The CEC rejected the suggestion for state funding of elections, saying “this will only add to the problem and not curb the use of money power in elections.”

He said: “We hope the government will bring about the pending electoral reforms soon. Reform proposals should be taken very seriously in the coming session of Parliament ... The EC's authority needs to be strengthened.”

Speaking at a panel discussion on electoral reforms, Mr. Quraishi said: “Time has come for us to consider the ‘Right to Reject' proposal,” but further discussion was required to prevent political parties from fielding criminal candidates in elections. Such a proposal was earlier demanded by Team Anna also.

Under this, voters would have the right to reject all the candidates in the fray if they find none to be suitable.

The CEC said a number of electoral reforms had been pending with the government and sought a beginning in this regard.

Turning down the idea of state funding, Mr. Quraishi said it would not help in curbing the use of black money in elections.

He also rejected the idea of making voting compulsory as was done in some countries like Australia.

“Voting cannot be made compulsory. In Australia too it is working hopelessly ... It is practically impossible,” he said, adding such a law could lead to crores of cases because the law had to be implemented properly.

Deregistration powers

Mr. Quraishi also sought more powers for the EC to deregister parties indulging in malpractices and to fix the limit for money to be spent in elections.

The CEC sought a ban on all political advertisements by incumbent governments six months ahead of elections. He also sought a ban on opinion polls ahead of polls, though the exit polls had been banned as per law.

“There should also be a ban on any kind of advertisement 48 hours before the polls to enable the voters to decide on their own. At present, print media is allowed to have advertisements. We want even print media ads by political parties and leaders be banned,” he added.

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