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37 EC recommendations pending since 2014

One of the suggestions was to introduce indelible marker pens, instead of ink vials.

One of the suggestions was to introduce indelible marker pens, instead of ink vials.  

Among the 37 recommendations of the Election Commission’s working groups, pending since 2014, are the disqualification of candidates at the stage of framing of charges that attract a minimum of five years’ imprisonment; increased punishment for false affidavits; and permanent disqualification of those guilty of corruption and heinous crimes.

The nine working groups set up by the EC to suggest improvements in specific areas, based on their experience during the 2014 Lok Sabha elections, had submitted a total of 337 recommendations, of which 300 have been disposed of so far.

Among the suggestions was drafting of legal provisions to disqualify candidates for offences with a minimum of five years’ punishment on framing of charges, rather than on conviction.

False affidavits

A working group had also suggested that the punishment for filing false affidavits be increased from six months to more than two years and that candidates found guilty of corruption, disloyalty and heinous crimes be permanently disqualified.

Currently, under Section 8 of the Representation of the People Act (RPA), any person convicted and sentenced to imprisonment for the listed offences is disqualified from the date of conviction and remains disqualified for a further period of six years after his release.

One of the pending recommendations is that a candidate contesting a different election should resign from the current seat.

Changes to model code

With respect to the model code of conduct (MCC), which has been evolved through consensus among political parties, a working group had suggested amendments empowering the Commission to issue notice to a party for necessary corrections in its manifesto. It was also for the setting up of courts to adjudicate electoral offences and disallowing the use of government designations for the purposes of political publicity.

Another pending recommendation pertains to the introduction of indelible marker ink pens, instead of ink vials, as a pilot project. The quality check of the ink should be done by multiple independent laboratories, it was suggested.

In order to constrict the duration of the election process, a working group had said that under the community legal demographic profiling and election time zones system, factors such as weather, examination schedules and festivals should be mapped in each State for scheduling of polls.

Guidelines for parties

Another group had submitted that the number of members required for the registration of a party should be increased from 100 to 1,000. Parties that do not field any candidate in elections should be de-registered. Also, legal provisions should be drawn to regulate funding. A major recommendation is for drafting a comprehensive Bill that deals with registration, recognition and funding of political parties.

Standardisation of elector photo identity card numbers, as they are 10 digits in some States and 16 in others, is also one of the issues, apart from the setting up of fast-track courts for speedy resolution of expenditure-related matters.

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