Want to change how elections are held in India? Here's your chance
The government is offering citizens a chance to reform the electoral system in the nation.
“The Law Commission of India has extended the last date from 30th June 2013 to 31st July 2013 for sending comments/ suggestions on its Consultation Paper on Electoral Reforms” noted a press release that caught my eye a couple of days ago.
“The issue of Electoral Reforms”, it noted, “has been referred by the Central Government to the Law Commission of India for consideration and for suggesting comprehensive measures for changes in laws relating to elections….The Commission, through the Consultation Paper, has solicited views/ suggestions of political parties, states, civil society, and all other stakeholders, inter-alia, on the aforesaid issues”
Some key highlights from the consultation paper are being reproduced below:
“While some constructive steps have been taken through significant amendments to the Representation of the People Act, 1951, these reforms have failed to keep up a consistent pace with the growth and strengthening of the democratic values. Issues pertaining to election malpractices seem to come into the limelight in times of brazen and gross violations of procedures but soon fade into oblivion. Therefore, a review of the laws and procedures in light of new developments and complexities is necessary.”
Lofty indeed. It gets loftier a few pages on.
“Concern has been raised that for preserving the integrity of the election process, there is need to travel beyond the domain of criminality and to evaluate the fitness of a candidate on the touchstone of certain enumerated standards…… Such an approach, it is believed, would be a significant step in the direction of enabling and facilitating the infusion of new standards as regards nomination of candidates and transparency and accountability of political parties”.
Whilst I am perfectly well aware of the slew of such reports that various commissions and committees have generated in the past [on which the political class has taken very little action subsequently], I do believe that politics is too important a business to be left to politicians. As citizens, this right here is an opportunity to make our voices heard on an aspect that determines the social, political, judicial and economic construct of this nation of ours.
Without further ado, let me now give you an overview of the areas covered by the Consultation Paper.
The Broad Areas:The 21st Law Commission has invited suggestions under the following broad heads [for your reference, the hyperlink to the Representation of the People Act 1951 has been inserted at the end of this article] -
For those of you who would like participate in this exercise, I am inserting the hyperlinks to the relevant documents [and related background material]:
1. The Press Release – PIB, GOI.
2. The Consultation Paper – this details out the sections and subsections under which suggestions are being solicited by the 21st Law Commission
3. The Representation of People Act, 1951 – for reference. The most critical Sections which need to be put under the scanner: 8 ,8A, 9, 9A,10,11,11A, 11B, 29A, 29B, 29C, 32, 33, 33A, 39A, 41, 53, 75A, 77, 78,123,125,125A, 135A, 146 – this list may not be exhaustive.
4. A sample response [by Jay Panda] – you can also read his response to a few questions on this topic that I asked him a fortnight ago by clicking here. The interview also has hyperlinks to the 3 Private Member Bills [on Electoral Reforms] that he has worked on.
5. Just for a lark, and on a whim, here is the link that will take you to a tediously long list of reports submitted on various topics [social, economic, judicial etc.] by the 21 Law Commissions between 1955 and now. Some day, I hope the GOI appoints another commission to find out how many of the recommendations by other commissions have actually been adopted/implemented
6. I am in a generous mood today [towards those sections of the political class that have reduced this democracy of ours to a farce most foul]; on another day I would have liberally quoted from a government document titled “Ethics in Governance” as well. Page 38 of the document that I am NOT going to share here reveals that the political philosopher that the GOI reveres is the supreme conservative, Edmund Burke – need I say more?
Let us go and make some noise now, shall we!? The Mainstream Media – the dominant voices within, if not all - is NOT going to ever focus on systemic and structural issues. As a friend tweeted, the so-called fourth pillar increasingly looks like the 5th column…..
Afterthought: I, for one, would like to see the responses of the following ladies and gentlemen to the consultation paper – Kanimozhi, A Raja, Raja Bhaiyya, Gopal Kanda, Lalu Prasad, Suresh Kalmadi and a few others whose names I can’t take here, discretion being the better part of valour and allthatjazz!
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