Comprehensive Consultations With Stakeholders Must for Electoral Reforms, Says Rijiju

Law Minister Kiren Rijiju on Wednesday said wide consultations with stakeholders, including political parties, are necessary to implement electoral reforms.

His comments come against the backdrop of a new push by the poll panel for electoral reforms, including the use of remote voting technology to allow migrant voters to exercise their franchise without going to their home states.

Earlier this month, the Election The Commission held discussions with the recognized political parties on the matter.

Referring to various proposals brought out by the Election Commission on electoral reforms, he said consultation and discussion are the “symbols” of a vibrant democracy.

Rijiju said that as a result of the changes made in the election laws a year ago, more than 1.5 crore new voters have been added to the electoral rolls.

He said that the four cut-off dates have helped young eligible citizens to register as voters when they turn 18, instead of earlier.

The minister also appreciated the move to allow people above the age of 17 to register in advance with the Election Commission. Once they turn 18, their names are added to the voter list.

Addressing the 13th National Voters’ Day event here in the presence of President Draupadi Murmu, Chief Election Commissioner Rajeev Kumar, fellow election commissioners and representatives of various political parties, Rijiju recalled the role of various unsung heroes who have not been honoured. , but has been created. Sacrifice while helping to conduct free and fair elections.

On the issue of electoral reforms, the Minister said that he is in constant touch with the Election Commission and is holding meetings with the officials of the Election Commission on this issue.

The Legislative Department in the Union Law Ministry is the nodal agency for poll panel related issues including election laws and related rules.

Various proposals of the Election Commission related to electoral reforms are with the government. He said the conference is meant to consult political parties and sometimes to seek views of common citizens before moving forward on such reform proposals.

He said, “It is a symbol of a vibrant democracy to move forward only after consultation and discussion.”

In the recent past, the poll panel had proposed reducing anonymous political donations from Rs 20,000 to Rs 2,000 and capping cash donations at 20 per cent of total contributions or a maximum of Rs 20 crore to clean up election funding of black money. Could

CEC Kumar had written a letter to Rijiju recommending several amendments in the Representation of the People Act. The proposals are aimed at improving and bringing transparency in donations received by political parties as well as expenditure incurred by candidates in elections.

Reviving a nearly two-decade-old proposal, the Election Commission has also pushed for amending a law to bar people from contesting elections from more than one seat and said that if it cannot be done, Heavy fine should be imposed. On those vacating one of the constituencies and forcing a by-election.

As the electoral law stands today, a candidate is allowed to contest from two different constituencies in a general election or a group of by-elections or biennial elections. If a person is elected from more than one seat, he can hold only one of the seats he has won.

The poll panel has advocated reducing the cash donation limit to political parties from Rs 20,000 to Rs 2,000.

As per the rules currently in force, political parties are required to disclose all donations above Rs 20,000 through their contribution reports which are submitted to the Election Commission.

If the EC’s proposal is approved by the law ministry, all donations above Rs 2,000 will be reported through a contribution report, thereby increasing transparency in funding.

The EC has also sought to limit cash donations to 20 per cent or a maximum of Rs 20 crore, whichever is less, of the total funds received by a party.

To bring transparency in expenditure incurred by individual candidates contesting elections and to remove “substitution” in this expenditure, the poll panel has demanded that digital transactions or account payee check transfers be made mandatory for all expenditure above Rs 2,000. should go. Unit / Person.

Government sources said once this amendment to Rule 89 of the Conduct of Elections Rules, 1961, is completed, the candidate will have to maintain a separate account for receipt and payment related to the election and transparently disclose the same to the authorities. Have to do on account of election expenditure.

As of now, maintaining a separate bank account for election expenditure is part of the instructions, but the Election Commission wants it to be made part of the conduct of elections rules.

Meanwhile, the Law Commission has sought fresh views from various stakeholders, including political parties and the Election Commission, on holding simultaneous elections based on six questions identified by the previous panel in its draft report on the politically sensitive subject.

The 22nd Law Panel had issued a public notice last month seeking views of stakeholders.

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(This story has not been edited by News18 staff and is published from a syndicated news agency feed)