ELECTION LAWS

STEPS TOWARDS REFORMING ELECTION LAWS

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By Biplab Roy

Very often unlike other common people I am also confused about our democracy as a crystal difference is noticed between the idea incorporated in the Constitution and the practice followed through out the country.

Amongst others we have promised in the Preamble of the Constitution to secure social, economic and political justice to all by upholding dignity of the individuals but in practice this basic principle of the Constitution is tarnished so off and on that we are in the state of forgetfulness about the said object of the Preamble.

In our National Anthem Rabindra Nath Tagore has strengthened the principle of democracy saying that Indian’s fate-makers are only its citizen and none else. But the common people are always ignored at the hands of political representatives, administration and also other local authorities as we sing our National Anthem without knowing its inner meaning.

The role of the common people is very significant in democracy only at the time of election as they are the only source of all power to elect representatives to form Government. They are just like God at the time of election and contesting candidates of the election are their devotees.

Their photographs, posters and placards are always found with folded hands across the country as if their birth is only to serve the people. Unfortunately, the situation turns reverse immediately election is over and like God the common people are immersed.

To me, it happens only because there are lots of defects in the laws relating to election of the country. Firstly, the people of India do not retain any power after exercising their franchise and as a result, once a person is elected, his removal from the capacity is beyond control of the common people.

Such elected person continues to hold power till completion of his tenure or natural death, whichever is earlier, even if he does not work for the people of his constituency or does not keep the promise which he made at the time of election to earn confidence of the common people. Therefore, some power should be in the hand of the people to remove their elected representative if he does not work in accordance with law or does not work in the constituency for consecutive six months or change the political party on whose ticket he won the election.

Secondly, there is no minimum qualification prescribed in the election laws to contest in the election of the Parliament and the State Assembly. It is true that no formal education is required for service of mankind.

But it should not be forgotten that the Parliament and the State Assemblies are the law making authorities of the country and making of good laws is possible only when the members of the Parliament and the State Assemblies are educated coupled with knowledge on the principles of the Constitution and the society where from he is intended to contest the election.

Thirdly, no person should be allowed to contest election against whom charge has already been framed in any court of law for the offence of murder, rape, dacoity, cheating, counter fitting of coins, sedition, possessing sophisticated arms corruption etc until he is acquitted. This will no doubt check criminalisation in democracy.

Fourthly, no person should contest the election if he has been elected for consecutive three terms as member of Parliament or State Assembly or complete the age of 65 years, which ever is earlier. The age of superannuation in Government service is normally 60 years except the Chief Justice of India who retires on completion of the age of 65 years.

Similarly, maximum age limit should be prescribed to be a member of Parliament or the State Assembly. Although minimum age limit has been prescribed in the Constitution to be a member of Parliament, State Assembly, President and Governor but no maximum age limit has been prescribed and as a result fresh, air is always prevented to enter into the temple of democracy.

Fifthly, there should be an active centralised Election Commission through out the country by introducing special service cadre in this regard. The State Election Commissioner should be appointed by the National Election Commission and his appointment, promotion, posting and disciplinary action should not be at the hands of the State Government.

The State Election Commission so appointed shall not only conduct the Parliamentary and Assembly Elections but he should conduct the thee tire Panchayat and Civil Elections freely and fairly in consultation with the Central Election Commission starting from date of notification till declaration of result. The law and order should be at the hands of State Election Commission from the date of notification of election till one month one month after declaration of result so that he may take care of the post election incidents.

Sixthly, a person should not hold two elected posts at a time, one in the local authority and another in the State Assembly. It is not good for the healthy democracy as same person represent people at two elected bodies. For example, (1) the Mayor of Kolkata. He is the Councillor of a ward and has been elected as Mayor of the Kolkata Municipal Corporation. He is also MLA of a constituency. (2) One sitting Minister of the State Government is also Councillor and Chairman of the Bishnupur Municipality, Bankura. (3) There are many MLAs in West Bengal who are also head of the elected civil body. Because of duel status of the elected representatives interest of common people is not properly represented in either of the forum. Such practice inspires favouritism and nepotism in the democracy.

Seventhly, work of the MLA and MPs are not part time one or it is not confined only during the session of the Parliament and Assembly. They are duty bound to serve the people during the entire tenure for which he is elected. The MLA and MPs are given monthly honorarium along with other parks which is more than top level grade 1 officer of the State or Central Government. If that be so, every second of the MLA and MPs is for the public at large less than his personal comfort as he has chosen the responsibility. It is very sad to say that some of the MLA and MPs having back ground of film, music, medical, law etc are mostly busy with shooting and other public performance which are not doubt mistrust to the confidence of the public and it should be stopped by enacting law.

Last not the least, submission of wrong information of any candidate or furnishing fabricated income and expenditure of any political party in the Office of the Election Commission should be treated as fraud and in such case, candidate if elected should be terminated within three months from the date of detection and the political party should be banned for contesting election for five years.

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