1) Which of the following committees are related to electoral reforms?
1) K. Santhanam Committee.
2) Dinesh Goswami Committee.
3) Tankha Committee.
4) V. R. Rao Committee.
5) K. N. Sahaya Committee.
a. 1, 2, 3, 5
b. 2, 4, 5
c. 2, 3
d. All of the above
ANSWER: 2, 3
Committees Related To Electoral Reforms -
- Various committees and commissions have examined India’s electoral system in detail.
- They have analyzed the working of election machinery as well as election process and suggested reforms.
Some of the Committees are -
a) Tarkunde Committee - It was appointed in 1974 by Jaya Prakash Narayan (JP). It was during his “Total Revolution” movement. This was an unofficial committee and it submitted its report in 1975.
b) Dinesh Goswami Committee on Electoral Reforms (1990).
c) Vohra Committee on the Nexus between Crime and Politics (1993).
d) Indrajit Gupta Committee on State Funding of Elections (1998) - It upheld the reasoning for introduction of state funding of elections. It also said that state funding of elections is in public interest and constitutionally and legally justified.
e) Law Commission of India Report on Reform of the Electoral Laws (1999).
f) National Commission to Review the Working of the Constitution (2000-2002) - It was headed by M. N. Venkatachaliah.
g) Election Commission of India Report on Proposed Electoral Reforms (2004).
h) Second Administrative Reforms Commission of India Report on Ethics in Governance (2007) - It was headed by Veerappa Moily.
i) Tankha Committee - It was appointed in 2010. It was to look into the whole gamut of the election laws and electoral reforms.
2) Which of the following were electoral reforms from before 1996?
1) Lowering Voting Age.
2) Voting through postal ballot.
3) Electronic Voting Machines.
a. 1, 2
b. 1, 3
d. All of the above
ANSWER: 1, 3
Electoral Reforms before 1996 -
Lowering of Voting Age -
- The 61st Constitutional Amendment Act of 1988 reduced the voting age from 21 years to 18 years for the Lok Sabha and assembly elections.
- This was done in order to provide opportunity to India’s youth to express their feelings and help them become a part of political process.
Deputation to Election Commission -
- A provision was made in 1988 which said that the officers and the staff engaged in preparation, revision and correction of electoral rolls for elections will be considered to be on deputation to the Election Commission for the period of such employment.
- These personnel, during this period, would be under the control, superintendence and discipline of the Election Commission.
Increase in Number of Proposers -
- There was increase in number of proposers for election to Rajya Sabha and Legislative councils in 1988.
- The proposers (number of electors who are required to sign in nomination papers) for elections to the Rajya Sabha and state legislative council had been increased to 10 per cent of the electors of the constituency or ten such electors, whichever is less.
- This was aimed at preventing non-serious candidates from contesting.
Electronic Voting Machines -
- The use of Electronic Voting Machines (EVMs) in elections was enabled by a provision in 1989.
- The EVMs were used for the first time in 1998 on experimental basis in selected constituencies in the elections to the State assemblies of Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh and Delhi.
- The EVMs were used for the first time in the general elections (entire state) to the Assembly of Goa in 1999.
Booth Capturing -
- A provision was made in 1989 for adjournment of poll or countermanding of elections in case of booth capturing.
Booth capturing involves -
1. seizure of a polling station and making polling authorities surrender ballot papers or voting machines;
2. taking possession of polling station and allowing only one’s own supporters to exercise their franchise;
3. threatening and preventing any elector from going to polling station; and
4. seizure of the place being used for counting of votes.
3) Which of the following were electoral reforms of 1996?
1) Listing of Names of Candidates.
2) Prohibitions of Arms.
3) Prohibition of sale of liquor.
a. 1, 2
b. 1, 3
c. 2, 3
d. All of the above
ANSWER: All of the above
- Electoral Reforms of 1996 -
- In 1990, the National Front Government headed by V. P. Singh appointed Dinesh Goswami Committee on electoral reforms.
- Some of these recommendations were implemented in 1996.
Listing of Names of Candidates -
The candidates contesting elections are to be classified into three lists -
1. Candidates of recognised political parties.
2. Candidates of registered-unrecognised political parties.
3. Other (independent) candidates.
- Their names in the ballot papers have to appear separately in the above order.
- In each category these have to be arranged in the alphabetical order.
Disqualification for Insulting the National Honour Act -
A person who is convicted for the following offences under the Prevention of Insults to National Honour Act of 1971 is disqualified to contest in the elections to the Parliament and state legislature for 6 years -
1. Offence of insulting the National Flag.
2. Offence of insulting the Constitution of India.
3. Offence of preventing the singing of National Anthem.
Prohibition on the Sale of Liquor -
- No liquor or other intoxicants are to be sold or given or distributed at any shop, eating place, hotel or any other place whether public or private within a polling area during the period of 48 hours ending with the hour fixed for the conclusion of poll.
- Any person who violates this rule is to be punished with imprisonment up to 6 months or with fine up to Rs. 2,000 or with both.
- Number of Proposers -
- The nomination of a candidate in a Parliamentary or assembly constituency should be subscribed by 10 registered electors of the constituency as proposers, if the candidate is not sponsored by a recognized political party.
- In the case of a candidate sponsored by a recognized political party, only one proposer is required.
- This was to discourage non-serious people from contesting elections.
Death of a Candidate -
- Earlier, in case of death of a contesting candidate before the actual polling, the election used to be countermanded and the election process used to start all over again in the concerned constituency.
- Now, the election would not be countermanded.
- If the deceased candidate belonged to a recognised political party, the party concerned would be given an option to propose another candidate within seven days.
Time Limit for By-Elections -
- Now, by-elections are to be held within six months of occurrence of the vacancy in any House of Parliament or a State Legislature.
But, this condition is not applicable in two cases -
1. where the remainder of the term of the member whose vacancy is to be filled is less than one year; or
2. when the Election Commission in consultation with the Central Government, certifies that it is difficult to hold the by-elections within the said period.
Holiday to Employees on the Polling Day -
- The registered voters employed in any trade, business, industry or any other establishments are entitled to a paid holiday on the polling day.
- This rule applies even to the daily wagers.
- Any employer who violates this rule is to be punished with a fine up to Rs. 500.
- However, this rule is not applicable in the case of a voter whose absence may cause danger or substantial loss in respect of the employment in which he is engaged.
Contestants Restricted to Two Constituencies -
- A candidate would not be eligible to contest from more than two Parliamentary or assembly constituencies at a general election or at the by-elections which are held simultaneously.
- Similar restrictions are imposed for biennial elections and by-elections to the Rajya Sabha and the State Legislative Councils.
Prohibition of Arms -
- Entering into the vicinity of a polling station with any kind of arms is to be considered a cognizable offence, punishable with imprisonment of up to two years or with fine or with both. Further, the arms are to be confiscated and the related license is to be cancelled.
- But, these provisions are not applicable to the returning officer, presiding officer, any police officer or any other person appointed to maintain peace and order at the polling station.
- Effective Campaigning Period Reduced - The minimum gap between the last date for withdrawal of candidature and the polling date has been reduced from 20 to 14 days.
4) Which of the following were electoral reforms since 2010?
1) Contestants cannot contest from more than two constituencies.
2) Restriction on exit polls.
3) Increased election expenditure.
a. 2, 3
b. 1, 2
c. 1, 3
d. All of the above
ANSWER: 2, 3
Electoral Reforms since 2010 -
Restrictions Imposed on Exit Polls -
- According to Representation of the People (Amendment) Act, 2009, conducting exit polls and publishing results of exist polls would be prohibited during the election to Lok Sabha and State Legislative Assemblies.
- Punishment for contravention is with imprisonment of upto two years or with fine or with both.
- ‘Exit-poll’ is an opinion survey regarding how people have voted at an election.
- Time-Limit for Submitting a Case for Disqualification - Representation of the People (Amendment) Act, 2009 made a provision for simplification of the procedure for disqualification of a person found guilty of corrupt practices.
- 3 months time was provided to specified authority who will have to submit the case of a person found guilty of corrupt practice to the President for determination of the question of disqualification.
All Officials Included in Corrupt Practice -
- Representation of the People (Amendment) Act, 2009 made a provision for the inclusion of all officials, whether in the government service or not, appointed or deputed by the Election Commission in connection with the conduct of elections, within the scope of corrupt practice.
Increase in Security Deposit -
- Representation of the People (Amendment) Act, 2009 increased the amount of security deposit to be paid by the candidates contesting elections to the Lok Sabha and State Legislative Assembly too. This was to check the multiplicity of non-serious candidates.
Appellate Authority within the District -
- Representation of the People (Amendment) Act, 2009 made a provision for appointment of an appellate authority within the district against the orders of the Electoral Registration Officers, instead of the Chief Electoral Officer of the state. Thus, an appeal against any order of the Electoral Registration Officer of a constituency (during continuous update of the electoral roll) will now lie before the District Magistrate or Additional District Magistrate or Executive Magistrate or District Collector or an officer of equivalent rank.
- A further appeal will now lie before the Chief Electoral Officer of the state.
Voting Rights to Citizens of India Living Abroad -
- Representation of the People (Amendment) Act, 2010 made a provision to confer voting rights to the citizens of India residing outside India.
Every citizen of India -
a) whose name is not included in the electoral roll;
b) who has not acquired the citizenship of any other country;
c) who is absent from his place of ordinary residence in India owing to his employment, education or otherwise outside India (whether temporarily or not) - shall be entitled to have his name registered in the electoral roll in the Parliamentary/Assembly constituency in which his place of residence in India as mentioned in his passport is located.
Ceiling on Election Expenditure Increased -
- In 2011, the Central Government raised the maximum ceiling on election expenditure by candidates for a Lok Sabha seat and Assembly seat.
5) 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.
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.
6) Which amendment is called Anti-Defection Law?
- Disqualification of the members of Parliament and the state legislatures on the grounds of defection from one political party to another was provided by the 52nd Amendment Act of 1985.
- The act made changes in four Articles - 101, 102, 190, 191 of the Constitution and added the Tenth Schedule (new schedule) to the Constitution.
- This act is often known to as the ‘Anti-Defection Law’.
- The 91st Amendment Act of 2003 made a change in the provisions of the 10th Schedule.
- It omitted an exception.
- That means that now the disqualification on ground of defection will apply in case of split.
Provisions of The Law -
The Tenth Schedule has following provisions regarding disqualifications -
Political Parties’ members -
A member of a House belonging to any political party becomes disqualified for being a member of the House,
(a) if he voluntarily gives up his membership of such political party; or
(b) if he votes or abstains from voting in such House contrary to any direction issued by the political party to which he belongs or by any person or authority authorized by it in this behalf, without obtaining, in either case, the prior permission of such political party, person or authority and such voting or abstention has not been condoned by such political party, person or authority within fifteen days from the date of such voting or abstention.
- A member elected on a party ticket should continue in the party and obey the party directions.
Independent Members -
- An elected member of a House who has been elected as independent shall be disqualified for being a member of the House if he joins any political party after such election.
Nominated Members -
- A nominated member of a House shall be disqualified for being a member of the House if he joins any political party after the expiry of six months from the date on which he takes his seat.
- Thus, he can join a political party within six months.
7) Which of the following is/are true regarding Anti-Defection Law?
1) Only when 2/3rd members of the party agree to the merger, a merger takes place between parties.
2) The presiding officer of the house decides any question regarding disqualification arising out of defection.
a. Only 1
b. Only 2
c. Both 1 and 2
d. Neither 1 nor 2
ANSWER: Both 1 and 2
2 exceptions to the Anti-Defection Law -
- First - If a member goes out of his party due to a merger of his party with another party, he won’t be disqualified on grounds of defection.
- Only when 2/3rd members of the party agree to the merger, a merger takes place.
- Second - On being elected as the presiding officer of the House, if a member, voluntarily gives up the membership of his party or rejoins it after he ceases to hold that office, he won’t be disqualified.
- This exemption aims to maintain the dignity and impartiality of this office.
- Exemption from disqualification in case of split by 1/3rd members of legislature party has been deleted by the 91st Amendment Act of 2003.
- Thus, the defectors have no more protection on grounds of splits.
Deciding Authority -
- The presiding officer of the house decides any question regarding disqualification arising out of defection.
- Originally, the act provided that the decision of the presiding officer is final and cannot be questioned in any court.
- The Supreme Court declared this as unconstitutional on the ground that it seeks to take away the jurisdiction of the Supreme Court and the High Courts.
- It held that the presiding officer, while deciding a question under the Tenth Schedule, function as a tribunal.
- Thus, his decision is subject to judicial review on the grounds of mala fides, perversity etc.
Rule-Making Power -
- The presiding officer of a House can make rules to give effect to the provisions of the 10th Schedule.
- All such rules must be placed before the House for 30 days in which the House may approve or modify or reject them.
- Also, he may direct that any willful breaking of such rules by any member may be dealt in the same manner as a breach of privilege of the House.
- The presiding officer can take up a defection case only when he receives a complaint from a member of the House.
- Before taking the final decision, he must give the defecting member a chance to submit his explanation.
- He may also refer the matter to the committee of privileges for inquiry.
- This shows that defection as such has no immediate and automatic effect.
8) Which statements are true regarding merits and demerits of Anti-Defection Law?
1) It doesn’t differentiate between defection and dissent.
2) It checks mischief of defection.
3) Rules are same for defection of independent members and nominated members.
4) This does not bring stability in the legislature.
a. 1, 3
b. 1, 2, 4
c. 2, 3, 4
d. 1, 2
ANSWER: 1, 2
Merits of the Anti-Defection Law -
1. It checks mischief of defection by checking tendencies of legislators to change parties.
2. This brings greater stability in the legislature.
3. It facilitates democratic realignment of parties in the legislature in the form of merger of parties.
4. It drastically reduces expenditure incurred on irregular elections as well as corruption at the political level.
5. For the first time a proper and clear constitutional recognition is provided to political parties.
Criticism of Anti-Defection Law -
- It doesn’t differentiate between defection and dissent.
- It curtails the legislator’s right to dissent and freedom of conscience.
- Thus, it clearly puts party bossism on a pedestal and sanctions tyranny of the party in the name of the party discipline.
- The difference it accords to individual defection and group defection is irrational.
- Thus ‘it banned only retail defections and legalized wholesale defections’.
- It does not consider the expulsion of a legislator from his party for his activities outside the legislature.
- The discrimination it undertakes between an independent member and a nominated member is illogical. For both the rules are different.
- Giving the decision-making authority to presiding officer is criticized because he may not exercise this authority in an impartial and objective manner.
- Also, the officer lacks the legal knowledge and experience to adjudicate upon the cases.