Electoral Reforms In India

SC notice to EC on plea to ban convicts from running parties

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Mains Paper 2: Polity | Salient features of the Representation of People’s Act.

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Powers available to EC under various constitutional and statutory provisions, Quasi judicial bodies

Mains level: Electoral reforms and role of judiciary in it


News

Notice issued by SC to Election commission and Central govt

  1. The Supreme Court issued notice to the Centre and Election Commission on a Public Interest Litigation that sought a ban on convicted persons from forming political parties or becoming office-bearer of a party

What will SC decide in PIL?

  1. SC will examine if the Election Commission was empowered under Section 29A of the Representation of People’s Act, 1951 to derecognise a political party so formed or to disqualify the person
  2. Section 29A deals with registration of political parties

Provisions in RP Act and other judgments

  1. There are certain provisions under the 1951 Act which disqualify people from contesting the election
  2. A 2002 judgment of the apex court in Indian National Congress (I) vs Institute of Social Welfare & others, which spoke about “three exceptions” in which the Election Commission can review its order on registering a political party
  3. It is a duty of the Election Commission to exercise a quasi-judicial power

Contradictions in law

  1. By virtue of sections 8, 8A, 9, 9A, 10 and 11 of the Act of 1951, it has already been held that candidates convicted under criminal laws are disqualified from contesting elections with immediate effect
  2. Section 29 A is in total conflict with this objective to decriminalise politics in so far as it does not debar such convicts from making, operating and running a political party

What does PIL seek?

  1. It wants the court to declare unconstitutional Section 29A
  2. Also, to authorise the ECI to de-register political parties taking in account the reports by the Goswami Committee on electoral reform
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