Electoral reforms after 1996

Q.  Which of the following were electoral reforms after 1996?

1) Voting through Postal Ballot.
2) Open ballot system for Rajya Sabha.
3) Holiday to Employees on the Polling Day.

- Published on 17 Mar 17

a. 2, 3
b. 1, 2
c. 1, 3
d. All of the above

ANSWER: 1, 2
    Electoral Reforms after 1996 -

    Presidential and Vice Presidential Elections -

  • In 1997, the number of electors as proposers and seconders for contesting election to the office of the President was increased from 10 to 50.

  • For the office of the Vice-President it was increased from 5 to 20.

  • The amount of security deposit was increased for contesting election to both the offices of President and Vice-President to discourage frivolous candidates.

  • Requisitioning of Staff for Election Duty -

  • A provision was made in 1998 whereby the employees of local authorities, nationalized banks, universities, LIC, government undertakings and other government-aided institutions can be called for deployment on election duty.

  • Voting through Postal Ballot -

  • A provision was made in 1999 for voting through postal ballot by certain classes of persons.

  • Thus, any class of persons can be notified for this facility by the Election Commission, in consultation with the government.

  • If notified hen these class of persons cannot vote in any other manner, at elections in their constituency or constituencies.

  • Facility to Opt to Vote Through Proxy -

  • The facility to opt to vote through proxy was provided in 2003 to the service voters belonging to the Armed Forces.

  • It was also for members belonging to a Force to which provisions of the Army Act apply.

  • Such service voters who opt to vote through proxy, have to appoint a proxy in a prescribed format and intimate the Returning Officer of the constituency.

  • Declaration of Criminal Antecedents, Assets etc., by Candidates -

    The Election Commission in 2003 directed every candidate seeking election to the Parliament or a State Legislature to furnish on his nomination paper the information on the following matters -

    (i) Whether the candidate has been convicted or acquitted or discharged in any criminal offence in the past? Whether he/she was imprisoned or fined?

    (ii) Prior to six months of filing nomination, whether the candidate is accused in any pending case, of any offence punishable with imprisonment for two years or more, and in which charges were framed or cognizance was taken by a court; if so, the details thereof.

    (iii) The assets (immovable, movable, bank balances etc.) of a candidate and his/her spouse and that of dependents.

    (iv) Liabilities, if any, particularly whether there are any dues of any public financial institution or government dues.

    (v) The educational qualifications of the candidate.

  • Furnishing of any false information in the affidavit is now an electoral offence punishable with imprisonment upto 6 months or fine or both.

  • Changes in Rajya Sabha Elections -

    In 2003, two changes were introduced in regards to the Rajya Sabha -

    1. Domicile or residency requirement was removed. Earlier, a candidate had to be an elector in the state from where he was to be elected. Now, he just needs to be an elector in any parliamentary constituency in India.

    2. Open ballot system instead of secret ballot system - This was to stop cross-voting and to eliminate role of money during Rajya Sabha elections. In new system, an elector belonging to a political party has to show the ballot paper to a nominated agent of that political party, after marking his vote.

    Exemption of Travelling Expenditure -

  • A 2003 provision excluded the traveling expenditure incurred by the campaigning leaders of a political party from being a part of election expenses of the candidate.

  • Free Supply of Electoral Rolls etc. -

  • According to a 2003 provision, the government should supply, free of cost, the copies of the electoral rolls and other prescribed material to the candidates of recognized political parties for the Lok Sabha and Assembly elections.

  • The Election Commission should also supply specified items to the voters in the constituencies concerned or to the candidates set up by the recognized political parties.

  • Parties Entitled to Accept Contribution -

  • The political parties, in 2003 were given permission to accept any amount of contribution from any person or company except a government company.

  • However, they have to report any contribution larger than Rs. 20,000 to the Election Commission for making any claim to any income tax relief.

  • Also, the companies would get income tax exemption on the amount contributed.

  • Allocation of Time on Electronic Media -

  • The Election Commission, under a 2003 provision, should allocate equitable sharing of time on the cable television network and other electronic media, to political parties.

  • This is during elections to display or propagate any matter or to address public.

  • This allocation would be decided based on the past performance of a recognized political party.

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