Revision Schedule for Prelims 2017
Less than 2 months are left for Prelims 2017. Click here for a Revision Schedule for the next 5 weeks.
Time and again, many electoral reforms have been proposed by various committees, Law Commission and ECI itself. They primarily deal with Constitutional Amendments and amendments to RPA 1950 and 1951. We’ve tried to comprehensively list the proposed reforms under various sub-headings. A brute-force memorization of all this information is not required. Go through this list so that you have a background while reading news items on Electoral Reforms and ECI.
I.Amendment to the Constitution of India
1. Constitutional protection for all members of the Commission.
2. Budget of the Commission to be ‘charged’ on the CFI.
3. Independent Secretariat for the Commission.
II.Electoral Roll Matters
While Army personnel are allowed to vote, Navy and Airforce are not.
There are no provisions for overseas electors to vote despite being eligible to do so. Amendments proposed provide the option of proxy voting or postal ballot voting.
At present, the Electoral Rolls prepared by the Election Commission are not used by the State Election Commissions leading to duplication of effort and errors costing both in terms of time and money. Common Electoral Rolls to be used in local elections was a recommendation endorsed by the Law Commission.
III.Election Management Issues
At present, filing false declarations about the background of the candidate attracts penalty under Section 125A of The Representation of the People Act, 1951. The offence is punishable by up to 6 months, or with fine, or with both.
The Commission has proposed that the punishment under section 125A should be increased to 2 years’ imprisonment without the alternative clause of fine, and also that the offence should be included in the list of offences listed in sub-section (1) of section 8 which would attract disqualification on conviction irrespective of the term if sentence. The Commission also proposed that furnishing of false affidavit or suspension of material information in the affidavit should also be specified as ground for challenging the election under section 100 (1) of The Representation of the People Act, 1951.
In S. Subramaniam Balaji vs Govt. Of T.Nadu & Ors, the SC observed that “although, the law is obvious that the promises in the election manifesto cannot be construed as ‘corrupt practice’ under section 123 of The Representation of the People Act, the reality cannot be ruled out that distribution of freebies of any kind, undoubtedly, influences all people. It shakes the root of free and fair elections to a large degree. In this regard the EC has proposed an amendment to RPA, 1951 allowing Adjournment of poll or countermanding of elections on ground of bribery.
IV.Election Officials and Logistics
Use of Totalizer Machines
EVM totalizer can count votes of multiple Electronic Voting Machines (EVMs) simultaneously. This way the results of votes in a group of EVMs can be taken without ascertaining the result in individual EVM corresponding to polling booth.
As per the present provisions in The Conduct of Elections Rules, 1961, votes in the EVMs are to be counted polling station wise, which leads to situations where voting pattern in various localities/pockets become known to everyone. There is a view that this can result in victimization and/or discrimination and intimidation of electors of particular localities. This issue can be addressed by use of totalizer that can be used for taking out the results of voting in a group of 14 EVMs without revealing the votes in individual EVMs.
V.Nomination of Candidates
Contesting the elections from 2 seats – At present as per RPA 1951, a person is allowed to contest from 2 seats. However it is imperative that he has to vacate one of the two seats should he win both. This leads to holding by-elections which causes inconvenience to voters and financial expenditure. The amendment to RPA 1951 calls for removal of this provision of contesting from 2 seats.
VII.Reforms relating to Political Parties
1. De- registration of political parties
2. Tax Relief for Political Parties
3. Compulsory Maintenance of Accounts by Political Parties
4. Accounting and Auditing Report of Political Parties
5. Form 24A under Rule 85B of The Conduct of Elections Rules, 1961
6. Prohibition on Anonymous Donations
7. Sale of Coupons
8. Maintenance of separate bank accounts by each contesting candidate for poll expenses
9. Cap on Expenditure by Political Party on a Candidate for election campaign
10. Ceiling of campaign expenditure by political parties
11. Limit the Number of Star Campaigners
12. Time period for maintaining books of account under section 77 of The Representation of the People Act, 1951
VIII.Election campaign and advertisements
1. Ban on exit polls and opinion polls
2. Ban on Government Sponsored Advertisement before elections
3. Section 126 of The Representation of the People Act, 1951
4. Paid news in connection with elections
5. Section 125A of The Representation of the People Act, 1951
Point of worry:
The way out:
The issue is not cash versus cheque, but the insidious corporate-politico nexus. Even clean money can be (mis)used to induce this unclean nexus; a bribe given with clean money cannot legitimise the bribe. Read the op-ed to critically analyse on the topic political funding and electoral bonds.
Note the issue highlighted here. Can be mentioned in the “electoral reforms needed”.
Important for prelims as well as mains. Note the functions of the these machines, the issues raised and the SC and EC stands.
Few previous Amendments in electoral process:
What is questionable?
A constitutional right:
An important op-ed on electoral process of the country. Read it carefully for both Prelims and Mains
See what is a totaliser machine (click here) for prelims. Note the arguments for and against for mains.
What caused this debate?
Voter-Verified Paper Audit Trail:
The issue of paid news:
Some other points:
Law Minister’s reply:
Election Commission’s proposal:
Important for mains- electoral reforms. The needs, proposals and lacunae.
How has this happened?
The op-ed is a critical analysis of how the government plans to bring about accountability and transparency in electoral funding. It is important for Mains.
Free and Fair elections:
Intra- and inter-state variations:
Law and Order:
These results suggest that elections became more competitive and less likely to be manipulated by parties in power, which, in turn, had an impact on promoting development by increased provision of public goods. Read the topic for Mains, especially after the recent allegations on EVMs.
Study the issue of electoral reforms proposed, their need, current law on them- for mains. These are also important for prelims.
These details here are not found usually in polity books. It may become a prelims question because of the ongoing issues in TN. A similar issue and news article came in January, when the ECI had to assign the Samajwadi Party symbol. Click here to read it.
Corpus fund of political parties:
Legitimate fund raising:
Budget on election funding:
Funding of elections:
The way out:
The op-ed brings forth the situation of election funding in India. Note down the points under the last heading, they can be used in Mains answer.
Some early pointers:
Right to Reject:
This op-ed talks about the growing popularity of NOTA and its use as an instrument of protest. The op-ed is important for Mains examination. Read b2b for more information on NOTA.
The candidate with the maximum votes wins the election irrespective of the number of NOTA votes polled
The scheme of things:
Limiting cash donations:
What difference will it make?
Trouble with electoral bonds:
The op-ed is important for an understanding of the electoral reforms in the country. It is important to know what changes will it or will it not bring in the country.
Transparency in electoral funding:
Reduction from Rs 2,000 to Rs 20,000:
Disparity in theory and practice:
Other two points:
Transparency in political financing will happen when the political establishment realises that the only way to get out of the shackles of big and black money is to become open. The government should bring all political parties under the purview of the RTI Act, in this direction, thus honouring the Central Information Commission’s 2013 decision. This op-ed has good points that can be incorporated in your Mains answers or Essays.
Not directly important for exam but you should know the trends in case you need to quote in answer.
Articles such as these can help you understand the role of bodies like the EC. It does not just set-up polling booths etc, but it also maintains a level playing field.
At the same time, it illustrates how decision making may be impacted/delayed by elections. Hence the govt’s proposals for simultaneous elections.
Note4students: Know about exit polls and opinion polls.
Note4students: Prelims worthy info.
Note4students: Just know about it in case there is a need to quote from objective sources to support your arguments in such answers.
If not directly, such directive by EC might form part of a prelims question as to what are its poers or what can it direct to centre or states to ensure free and fair elections. Also revise your budget and election concepts.
This is just to be aware of the happenings around important issues. Do brush up your basics about Election Commission and Model Code of Conduct and the debate around giving it legal backing.
This can be a tit-bit for prelims or an excellent example of using technology for enhancing transparency in governance or electoral reforms.
Revise basics of budget. Do understand the pros and cons of advancing the budget date. This can be a question in mains or probably interview too. And also go into other budget reforms like doing away with plan and non-plan expenditure, merging of rail budget with Union budget.
This is a very important judgment. It remains to be seen how it will be implemented, and how political parties will deal with it. Also note, the Representation of Peoples Act is the only law mentioned in UPSC syllabus by name. Issues related to it are important.
The Representation of People Act, 1951 is an act of Parliament of India to provide for the conduct of elections of the Houses of Parliament and to the House or Houses of the Legislature of each State, the qualifications and disqualifications for membership of those Houses, the corrupt practices and other offences at or in connection with such elections and the decision of doubts and disputes arising out of or in connection with such elections. The Act was enacted by the provisional parliament under Article 327 of Indian Constitution, before the first general election.
Such news is important for mains.
1. This topic is important for mains.
2. Task for students: Revise the chapters on EC and elections in India from Laxmikanth.
The Electoral Reforms are in the pipeline. Keep a track of the developments. We have linked this card to the story so you can surf the older cards as well.
State funding of elections and other electoral reforms such as one state and national election have been in the news frequently these past few months. They are important for mains.
State funding essentially means the state shall provide funds to political parties to contest elections, and in return, there are restrictions on their accepting funds from public sources. State funding is a concept designed to reduce corruption. Some govt committees which have looked at state funding of elections in the past are:
1. The Committee on Constitutional Reforms and the Law Commission (2015)
2. Second Administrative Reforms Commission (2008)
3. National Commission to Review the Working of the Constitution (2001)
The Gujarat HC directed the State Election Commission (SEC) to further promote the NOTA option among the voters in the coming local body polls.
Discuss: What can be the safeguards put into the disq. clause so that no one abuses it? Entertain only major offences, Charges filed >1 year before nomination should not be taken up, etc.