STATUTORY RESOLUTION RE. DISAPPROVAL OF THE REPRESENTATION OF PEOPLE (AMENDMENT) ORDINANCE, AND REPRESENTATION OF THE PEOPLE (AMENDMENT) BILL
As Passed by Rahya Sabha
MR. DEPUTY SPEAKER: Now, we shall take up item nos. 18 and 19 together. Shri Girdhari Lal Bhargava.
SHRI GIRDHARI LAL BHARGAVA (Jaipur): I beg to move:-
" That this House disaproves of the Representation of the People (Amendment) Ordinance, 1992 (Ordinance No. I of 1992)"
1001 Stat. Res. re. disapproval of Representation of People (Amend.) Ordinance and
"promulgated by the President on the 4th January, 1992".
Mr. Deputy Speaker, I have moved a Resolution for the disapproval of this Ordinance.
The high powered commitee constituted for recommending electroal reforms has reported that election of a copnstituency should be countermanded only when a candiate of a recoginsed political party dies. The report further states that elections should not be countermanded in the event of death of an independent candidate. Poll will be countermanded only when a candidate of a recongnised political party dies. The Committee has, inter-alia, made several other recommendations also that by-elections should be completed within a definite timeframe. The Committee has also made recommendations for lowering the minimum age of voters and conducting election in non- partisan manner. All the members of the all party committee were unnanimous on the point that section 52 of Representation of the People Act 1951 should be so amended that the elections of a constituency would be countermanded only when a candidate of a recognized political party dies and not otherwise. It has also recommended that the decision to countermand the poll should be taken before the commencement of elections and not after the declaration of results. The Committee has alsor ecommended that the minimum age of a candidates contesting Lok Sabha and Legislative Assmebly elections should be leowered to twenty one and minimum age of a member to enter Rajya Sabha and the State Legilative Council should be fixed at twenty five. It has recommended that by lections should be held within six months of a seat falling vacant. If general elections are due within that year then that by lection can be held alongwith them. The Committee has recommeded for anulti-member Election Commission.\There should be, at least, three member in the Commission and they should be appointed by the Presindent or the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court.
It has further recommended that the Members of the Election Commis- Representation of 1002 People (Amend) Bill As passed by Rajya Sabha
sion could serve for a maximum period of 10 years or up to 65 years of age, whicheyer is earlier.
Mr. Deputy Speaker, Sir the bill has been brought forward with a view to make electoral reforms. There are different views about electoral reforms. It also fixes a ceiling on expenses a person would incur in the elections. (Interruptions)
MR. DEPUTY SPEAKER: The time is limited and many Members want to participate in the debate. So, please be brief.
SHRI GIRDHARI LAL BHARGAVA: I am making the same submission.
(Interruptions). Mr. Deputy Speaker, Sir, only one out of the several recommendation has been accepted. How much a candidate should spend on the elections has also been recommended by the Committee.
Similarly, the Committee has fixed some criteria for declaring the elections null and void. It has suggested that polls should be conducted with the help of electeronic machines. This will help check bogus voting. It suggests the ways how to entertain an election petition and recommendes other rules for a smooth poll. The Committee recommends that election petitions should be disposed of within 6 months, but in practice, it is not disposad of within 5 years even.
When the time of next elecions comes, then the ecases are being disposed of I had written for the disapproval of this Ordinance. The Ordinance has been promulgated by the President by accepting only one recommendation of the Committee. It is wrong. The government should not have promulgated the Ordinance. A comprehensive Bill should be brought forward for this. The question of Electoral reforms has time and again been taken up in the House and committees have been consituited. I would like to submit that all the recommendations of the Committee should be incorporated in the Bill and all political parties should be consulted before bringing it forward. It should 1003 Stat. Res. re. disapproval of Representation of
People (Amend) Ordinance and
[Sh. Girdhari Lal Bhargava]
be discussed in the committee to be constitued for the purpose and people's views in this regard should also be taken into account. The Bill should be a comprehensive one comprising all electoral reforms.
Mr, submission is for a simple thing. Elections were due in Punjab. This amendment has been brought forward with the intention that when elections are held in Punjab independent candidates contesting elections should not die at the hands of terrorists.
Because hence forward no elections would be countermended on the death of an independent candidate. Elections have been completed in Punjab but it is not certain as to how long the Assembly will last. The Congress party wanted to increase the strength of its Members in the Lok Sabha and it has succeeded in increasing the same. The Government has been applauded for its action. The Legislative Assembly would not work. The Assembly took the oath of office and secrecy yesterday. If is most likely that they would dissolve the Assembly within two months. They only wanted to increase their strength in the lok Sabha.
They are not at all concerned with the working of the Legislative Assembly.- My submission is that this Ordinance was issued keeping in view the elections in Punjab, but Government should introduce a comprehensive Bill comprising all the electoral reforms that have been recommended by the committee. That is why I have moved a Resolution for the disapproval of the Ordinance. The Bill brought forward for the replacement of the Ordinance promulgated by the President contains only one recommendation of the committee. As such it should be disapproved. I hope the hon. Minister would bring forward a Bill comprising all electoral reforms.
MR. DEPUTY SPEAKER: Motion moved:
"That this House disapproves of the
Representation of 1004 People (Amen ) Bill As passed by Rajya Sabha
Representation of the People (Amendment) Ordinance, 1992 (Ordinance No. 1 of 1992) promulgated by the Presi dent of the 4th January, 1992."
THE MINISTER OF LAW, JUSTICE AND COMPANY AFFAIRS
(SHRI K. VIJAYA BHASKARA REDDY): I beg to move:
"That the Bill further to amend the Representation of the People Act, 1951, as passed by Rajya Sabha, be taken into consideration."
Section 52 of the Representation of the People Act, 1951 provides for countermanding of a poll on the death of a candidate. Due to the rise of terrorism and violence in certain parts of the country, combined with the phenomenal increase in the number of independence candidates, the danger of countermanding of election on the death of a candidate has increased. One of the measures suggested to reduce disruption of election process and to reduce danger to lives of independent candidates who are an easy prey to terrorism, is to amend the aforesaid provisions so as to restrict the countermanding of elections only to the case of death of a candidate set up by a recognised political party. The main purpose of countermanding an election on the death of a candidate is to enable a recognised political party to field another candidate in his place. This is, however, not the case if an independent candidate dies.
This issue was also examined by the Electoral committee set up in 1990 under the chairmanship of the then Minister of Law and it Justice, late Shri Dinesh Goswami. The Committee had recommended substitution of the said section 52 and a provision of this effect has been included in the Representation of the People (Amendment) Bill, 1990 which is pending in the Rajya Sabha.
In the meanwhile, it was decided to hold general elections to the House of the People from the State of Punjab and also to the State Legislative. In view of the situation prevailing in the State of Punjab and in order to curb the
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danger of disruption of election process there, it became imperative to amend Section 52 of the Representation of the People Act, 1951 so as to restrict the countermanding of elections only in the case of death of a candidate set up by a recognised political party.
As Parliament was not in Session, the said section was amended by promulgation of an ordinance by the President on 4th January, 1992.
The present Bill seeks to replace this Ordinance by an Act of Parliament.
Hence, the Bill is before the House.
MR. DEPUTY SPEAKER: Motion moved:
"That the Bill further to amend the Representation of the People Act, 1951, as passed by Rajya Sabha, be taken into consideration."
SHRI SRIBALLAV PANIGRAHI (Deogarh): Mr. Deputy Speaker, Sir, I rise to support this Representation of the Peoples (Amendment) Bill which is intended to replace the Ordinance promulgated on the eve of recently concluded Punjab elections.
You will find that this is a Bill without any controversy. This is an innocuous Bill and is sure to receive support from all sections of the House.
AN HON. MEMBER: No.
SHRI SRIBALLAV PANIGRAHI : No? Then unfortunate. It will be supported even by the Opposition.
We all know the disadvantages, the ill effects, of having too many candidates in the elections. Sometimes it so happens that the ballot paper runs into two pages. The voters got confused. Just to get cheap popularity, some people who are not very serious about contesting elections, do come forward and file nominations and naturally we have to
Representation Of 1006 People (Amend) Bill As passed by Rajya Sabha create a situation that non-serious candi-dates and independent candidates are eliminated.
They do not join the fray and complicate the procedure of elections.
There is a provision in our Representation of Peoples Act under Section 52 which provides for countermanding of a poll, the election, on the death of a candidate and this death of the candidate also includes independent candidates.
Now we are going to differentiate so far as this provision is concerned between a regular candidate, sponsored by a recognised political party and one who is contesting on his own as an independent candidate.
There is lot of justification behind this and particularly the situation that used to prevail in Punjab clearly and abundantly necessitated the promulgation of such as Ordinance, making provision that in the case of the death of an independent candidate elections would not be countermanded.
The May-June election could not be held. I think that a large number of candidates were killed. Subject to correction, I can say that earlier elections were countermanded in as many as 13 Lok Sabha Canstituencies in the country as a whole. Coming to the Assemblies, it rose further higher upto 22 or something like that.
Most of them happened to be independent candidates. With the abnormal growth of violence, terrorism and terrorist activities in the country, independent candidates who do not have any support of any political party behind, are more exposed to danger. When a particular group of anti-social elements or terrorists are bent upon and determined to create disorder and to see that elections are disrupted, the independent candidates become the targets. We are all concerned about it.
Therefore, it is a very appropriate step which the Government have taken to ex-
1007 Stat. Res. re. disapproval of Representation of People (Amend) Ordinance and
[Sh. Sriballav Panigrahi]
clude the independent candidates from this provision of Section 52.
So, I wholeheartedly support this Bill. I also congratulate the Government for the determination with which they went ahead holding the elections against heavy adversity, against heavy odds. Against all the odds, they conducted the elections. They went ahead with holding the elections in Punjab. We expect similar determination from the Government to hold the elections in Jammu and Kashmir also.
Ours is one of the largest democracies in the world. Our country is a democratic Country. So, we should see to it that our democracy is also converted into the best democracy from the point of view of holding elections also. I think the situation is such that today we cannot claim that distinction. It is common knowledge that rigging is resorted to here and there in some parts of the country. The money- power, muscle-power do come to operate in certain pockets, in certain areas. But those evil powers should not be allowed to raise their ugly heads and should not be allowed to operate in the sphere of elections. We have got some provisions. We have got our Acts etc.
But beyond that also, we have some sort of an understanding, some code of conduct which is not mandatory. It you do not agree or if you agree and do not follow, do not observe it you are not taken to task.
Therefore, it is time that the entire House,...the leaders of all the political parties as also the intellectuals outside the House should address to this problem themselves how we can improve upon our electoral system. We precisely call this as electoral reforms which are also under the active consideration of the Government, as we understand. There was a Committee earlier also which went into this in detail. A Bill is pending in the other House. But they further need closer scrutiny, deeper thinking and that should be expedited.
While doing so, we have to see that our elections in India tall levels elections for Parliament, Assemblies and down-below at the Panchayat lev els-should be free and fair and less costly Everybody knows that there is some restric
Representation of 1008 People (Amend) Bill As passed by Rajya Sabha tion as far as expenditure is concerned. We do have the experience of the level of expenditure involved in the elections. There is some limit of expenditure that is to be incurred in different elections like elections to the Lok Sabha, Assemblies etc. and the expenditure vary, to some extent, from State to State. But it is observed more in violation. Everybody knows that. Right from our Rashtrapathi down to a village chowkidar, everybody knows how that particular provision is being observed, how it is being followed. Therefore, the provisions which cannot be followed, observed, such provisions should be deleted or if such provisions are there, there should be strict enforcements Reasonable and Practical provisions should be kept to see that they do not lose their relevance and they do not become an object of ridicule.
At present, that is an object of ridicule. Almost all are rather committing a fraud but it is there. Certain provisions in certain laws are there which we know that they are not practicable, not capable of being implemented. But that remains there and we are also involved in the process of committing a fraud by filing wrong returns deliberately.
It is not the real state of affairs. I will not go into details.
There can be several suggestions like issuance of identity cards, introduction of electronic machines. But if the human behaviour does not change, if the political parties do not take adequate lessons, if we are not determined, if we go on fielding the undesirable elements in the elections, things cannot improve. As you know, in certain booths, you can just introduce the electronic machines. People are not lagging behind. There are people who are capable of even snatching those machines from the booth and runaway. What will happen then? Is it not happening? The anti-social elements are raiding the polling booths with arms and fire arms. So many things are happening.
We should very seriously study all these things and all political parties and leaders should sit together and address themselves to this problem as to how to get rid of its vicious and ill effects. It is a slur also in the name of our democracy which is the largest democracy in the world. At the same
1009 Stat. Res. re. disapproval of Representation of people (Amend.) Ordinance and
time, there should be self-introspection. While doing so, all political parties should not go for immediate gains and they should be selfintrospection.
This electoral reform is a continuous process. At various points of time, several good measures have been introduced. During the time of Shri Rajiv Gandhi- I must make a reference to it- anti-defection law was enacted. It was also provided that donations could be made to the political parties by the Industrial houses. Age limit also was brought down.
So many things are there which can be considered for electoral reforms. There should be a comprehensive Bill. Candidates and the political activities, before commencement of the nomination period, apply to their political parties. There are many candidates who after being rejected by their party by in the other party for nomination.
MR. DEPUTY SPEAKER: The responsibility of the Treasury Benches is more to get their work completed. You have to cooperate with us now.
SHRI SRIBALLAV PANIBRAHI: All right, Sir. Anti-defection law is there. If the nomination is not cleared, if we do not look beyond our nose, if we do not want to have ideal elections, if we do not want to strengthen our democratic system, then things cannot improve. When somebody is rejected by the political party, he runs to other political party. In that case, other political parties should not oblige him.
It is an innocuous Bill, a non-controversial Bill. I whole- heartedly support it. We are all looking forward to a comprehensive Bill, after due deliberations where consensus should be arrived at among different political parties, to be tabled in the House as early as possible.