Representation of 1010 People (Amend. Bill As passed by Rajya Sabha
speakers also. Now Shri Bhagwan Shankar Rawat.
SHRI BHAGWAN SHANKAR RAWAT (Agra): Mr. Deputy Speaker, Sir, my hon. friend Shri Panigrahi made a few submissions just now. I feel that this is a piece meat legislation and there was no need to intro- duce this Bill now since no elections are due. Had these reforms been introduced during general elections then its purpose would have been understood. I am of the view that in place of this Bill a comprehensive Bill should have been brought forward and the shortcomings of Bill should have been discused. The Government should formulate a policy in which all the points in connection with elections right from enrolement of voters and the shortcomings noticed upto completion of election process and the points on which a national debate has been going on for last several days including suggestions made by the Elections Commissions and the matter which is pending in the Rajya Sabha since the time of previous Government should, be considered and a comprehensive Bill should be brought forward ac- cordingly. Although the Government is giving assurances again and again in the House but due to its vested interests it is not doing codification. It is not making the reforms which are very essential.
First of all, I would like to submit that the Representation of People Act stipulates that a door to door survey should be done for enrolement of voters. Thereafter drafts rolls are published. Then applications are invited for publication of final rolls and then people are allowed to add or delete their names in the voters' list.
Now the whole procedure has changed and due to this voters names cannot be registered in the list. Many people cannot registered their names because they can not fill up forms for inclusion of their names in the draft roll. Even if they apply, the machinery which verifies enumeration of names are of the level of patwari and accountant. I can give full proof of cases where these people throw thousands of such forms in waste paper baskets. There is rampart corruption in the 1011 Stat Res. re. disapproval of Representation of
People (Amend) Ordinance and
[Sh. Bhagwan Shankar Rawat]
process. The person who can give money can get his name enumerated and others who do not pay cannot include their names in the voters list. I am making these allegations in the House with full responsibility. The corruption starts from that level. Therefore, the Government should pay attention to door to door enumeration.
Voters should be issued identity cards, This Would help check bogus voting. Under the existing system a persons can manipulates to include his name at three places. He castes his vote at all the three places. This affects the entirelectity results. Bogus voting can be stopped only when identity cards are issued to the voters.
Now, I would like make a submission about delimitation. When Mrs Gandhi was alive, she wanted to introduced a Bill where delimitation would be made on rotation basis. Delimitation Bill has already been drafted and the Constitution provides that delimitation should be done on the basis of census reports. As long as Jawaharlal Nehru was alive, this provision was fully implemented. Thereafter, a Bill was introduced that now onwards no delimitation would take place and the seats of Lok Sabha and Legislative Assembly would be kept static till 2001. When Mrs. Gandhi came to know about it, she did not accept it.
The practice of increasing the number of seats for representation in Lok Sabha and State Legislative Assemblies on a definite population on the basis of increased population was not revived as required under the provisions of the Constitution. I would like to submit that number of seats should be increased with the rise in population.
Secondly I would like to say about the delimitation of the constituencies that the permanently reserved seats should be changed on rotation after every 10 years, because a sense of stagnation has developed among the general voters in reserved constituencies and among the reserved
Representation of 1012 People (Amend.) Bill As passed by Rajya Sabha voters in general constituencies. Rotation will help in removing this feeling.
Some days ago a resolution was brought forward that the Government would not increase the total number of seats. But it some Constituencies the fluctuation of population is too much, for example, in Delhi, Bombay and other metropolitan cities, where number of voters has increased manifolds while in some constituencies the number of voters has either diminished or is the same. Therefore, some constituencies have become unmanageable. It the Government is determined not to increase the number of seats according to the population, at least the population should be equitably divided by the total number of seats. Justice would be done only if the number of seats are increased according to the increasing population. In some constituencies the population of voters is so high that a Member cannot contact his voters. In the Indian context every voter wants that the Member of his constituency listen to their problems and tries to solve them. This is the reason why the candidate becomes unpopular and there is resentment among the people.
Besides, I would like to say a few words regarding both capturing. Every possible effort should be made to check both captur- ing. At present booth capturing has become such a problem that the election atmosphere is vitiated and mandate goes to those who cannot represent the aspirations of the people. Therefore, steps for checking booth capturing are very essential. A comprehensive Bill should be brought in the House in this regard wherein there should be effective provision to check booth capturing.
Irregularities in counting of votes could be chocked through electronic machines but these machines are lying idle in the country.
Still the Government has not will to use those machines. I would like to say that those machines should be used immediately and in each election, counting of votes should be done by those machines.
Besides, to reduce the expenditure of
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the electionss there should be state funding and the expenditure made by the candidates of the recognized political parties should be met by the Government. The Government should decide specific items of expenditure which would be borne by it. Besides, there is need of preventing the non-serious candidates. The security deposit for independent candidates should also be increased. Besides some other steps should also betaken. After holding national debate on this issue the Government should take some decision and election malpractices must be checked. My suggestion is that if any independent candidate wants to contest the elections, he must be a member of any local body or of Legislative assembly. If the Government makes such a provision it may help in preventing non- serious candidates from participating in the elections.
Now-a-days black money is being misused in the elections. Though all people file the returns but they are fake. After a national debate in this regard a certain policy should be framed to check this.
I would also like to submit one point more.My intensions are not wrong but unfortunately I am constrained to say that decision in elections should not be taken on the basis of politics. Elections should be countermanded only in extraordinary circumstances, otherwise it should not be done. A strange situation has been created in the country today....
MR. DEPUTY SPEAKER: An Independent candidate has a right to contest elections. Now the Amendment is, that if an independent candidate were to die, then the elections need not to countermanded.
That is the thrust of the Bill.
SHRI BHAGWAN SHANKAR RAWAT: Sir, I think you for guiding me but this Government brings only those issues which are in its own interest. There is need to reform
Representation of 1014 People (Amend) Bill As passed by Rajya Sabha our code of elections that should also be brought in the House. The elections were postponed in this country after assassination of Shri Rajiv Gandhi. There is no such provision in the constitution of India. Therefore, I would like to say that there should be a codification of postponing of the elections so that there is no confusion in future.
Along with this, I would like to add that there should be guidelines for countermanding the elections, when the Election Com- mission countermands it on the basis of complaints of booth capturing or other complaints. There was a complaint regarding the last elections that the Election Commissioner countermanded the elections arbitrarity. It should not be left to the discretion of an individual. It can lead to controversy, therefore it should be done on the basis of a code.
Sir, I would like to state one point more that some eligibility conditions should be fixed for election of the people's representa- tive. Some eligibility conditions are already there but in the present structure of democracy it is being felt that some additional qualifications should also be prescribed for the people's representatives.
Decision on election writ politions should be taken speedily. At present these elections writs are not decided even for 5-6 years and that is not good. Besides, Anti-defection Act should be amended and provision should be made under Representation of People Act that if an individual contests that election on the tickets of a certain party and wants to defect from the party, he should be debarred and deprived of the membership of the House. He should seek fresh mandate as an independent candidate or a candidate of a political party. it will remove the political corruption. We often see designs to break the parties. Any ruling political party, which tries to indulge in this does at the cost of losing confidence of the people. Therefore, such provisions should also be made there
Mr. Deputy Speaker, Sir, I am thankful to you for giving me an opportunity to speak In the end I would like to say that the 1015 Stat. Res. re. disapproval of Representation Of People (Amend.) Ordinance and
[Sh. Bhagwan Shankar Rawat]
Election Commission should also be constituted properly so that people may have faith In it. I would like to urge the Government that in principle I support this Bill which seeks it ensure that the election should not be countermanded on the death of an independent candidate.
It is being misused particularly in these days of terrorism. I would also like to say that it the Government has will and sincerity in bringing the election reforms, the Government should assure the House categorically that it will present all those suggestion about reforms given me and my colleagues in a codified form. With these words, I support this Bill and conclude here.
SHRI NITISH KUMAR (Barh): Mr. Deputy Speaker, Sir, this Bill has little scope of discussion. I will not waste the time of the House like my other colleagues, because this Amending Bill is not for entire election reforms, rather it has a specific objectives, that the elections will not be countermandedon the death of an independent candidate during the election or after the begining of the election process. The election will be countermanded only when a candidate of recognized political party dies. I oppose this Bill. Mr. Deputy Speaker, Sir, I would like to inform you that during the elections to the 10th Lok Sabha the election of my constituency was countermanded due to the death of an independent candidate. I have suffered. At that time I thought that it would have been better I the rule of countermanding the election on the death of an independent candidate was not in existence. But I realised later that these points arise in the mind because man is selfish by nature and his ordinance is the result of this kind of selfishness.
Last time when elections were announced in Punjab the Congress was not participating in them. The Congress wanted to make a back- door entry to the portals of power. Therefore, the election was concelled. The Congress wanted to add a few more Members to its party in the House and there
Representation of 1016 People (Amend) Bill As passed by Rajya Sabha fore such an ordinance was promulagated and it was said that due to terrorism there is risk to the lives of the candidates. Mr. Deputy Speaker, Sir, two types of risks have been created due to passing of this Bill. Till now there was a provision that If a candidate dies, the election would be countermanded. Sir, it is in accordance to the law of natural justice. The principle of natural justice says that every person is equal before the law, whether he is a candidate of a political party or is an independent candidate. Even today, some independent candidates win the Lok Sabha Elections and in the Legislative assembly their strength is about 10% of the total seats.
It means that now State Governments will not provide security to the independent candidates, if elections is not countermanded in case of death of an independent candidate. Suppose, any party does not give a ticket to a prominent person and he files his nomination as an independent candidate and the party sponsored candidate finds it. more difficult to contest against such a popular independent candidate.
Then it may be possible that party sponsored candidate may hatch a conspiracy to murder him as he knows the election will not be countermanded. It will impose a greater threat.
We want to see the whole country from our own angle sitting here.
It is against the principle of natural justice. Another situation can arise. If an authorised candidate does not got symbol from 'B' in time so technically he becomes an independent candidate. Many distinguished persons have been elected to this House an independent candidates, they include J.B. Kriplani, V.P. Singh etc. If somebody does not get the symbol in time or symbol form reaches late to him due to road blockade etc. he will contest the election as an independent candidate. It may be possible that his opponent may got him murdered and win the election. It is against the principle of natural justice.
The Bill seems to be challenging for the basic structure of the constitution. That is why we want to oppose it. There is also another thing involved in it. A large number of independent candidates file their nomination papers for
1017 Stat. Res. re. disapproval of Representation of people (Amend.) Ordinance and
contesting elections. In case somebody commits murder of an independent candidate, election will be countermanded. Just now, one hon. Member has said that a many elections have been countermanded this time. If the election is not countermanded consequent upon the death of an Independent candidate, it will pose greater risk to the life of a candidate, sponsored by a political party. There will be a double risk. On the one hand it is against the principle of natural justice and on the other hand an independent candidate who may be popular in the consituency does not get equal treatment. In the same way, an independent candidate has to face more difficulties In contesting elections as compared to a party candidate, A candidate of a political party gets so many exemptions in expenditure. His political party bears his different kinds of expenditure. On the contrary, an independent candidate has to contest the election at his own expenses. Two copies of voters' list are given free of cost to every candidates belonging to political parties whereas the same are not given to independent candidates free of cost. Inspite of all odds he wins the election. It means that the earlier law is competent enough to provide justice to all contestants and people of the country get opportunity to elect the candidate of their own choice. The Bill is not proper from three point of views one, it is against the natural justice, two, it does not provide opportunity to the people to elect the candidate of their own choice, and three it poses greater threat to the lives of candidates of political parties. This ordinance was promulgated with selfish motives in view. They issued this ordinance keeping an eye on Punjab elections. They needed 12-13 MPs which they got in Punjab elections. Now, lot this ordinance be lapsed. There should be a nation wide debate on this issue.
We are passing everything in a very haste. Earlier such an ordinance was promulgated in Punjab which was allowed to lapsed. We would like to request the Government to let this ordinance also be lapsed. An opportunity should be provided to all the people to express their views. An extensive
1018 Representation of People (Amend.) bill As passed by Rajya Sabha debate may be hold alongwith the comprehensive Bill on election reforms which is proposed to be brought by Government.
With these words, I opposed this Bill. I again appeal the Government to withdraw It and this ordinance be allowed to be lapsed.
SHRI RAMESH CHENNITHALA (Kottayam): Mr. Deputy Speaker, Sir, I was just listening to the speech of Shri Nitish Kumar and was pondering over the points-raised by him in his speech. This ordinance was promulgated during Punjab elections. If an Independent candidate dies, the elections would not be counter mended. But in case party candidate dies the elections would be countermanded- It party candidate dies, his party will nominate the other candidate. The candidate of a party gets the symbol of his party and contests the elections on the basis of his party's election manifesto. We went that the elections should not be countermanded at any cost. If the Government are to make sure that the elections be hold in all circumstances then it should provide that in case of a death of a candidate, of any political party, his party would nominate the other candidate. It needs to be given serious thought.
Our other colleagues have said so many things about election system. During Punjab elections the Government had promulgated an ordinance to reduce the duration of election propaganda. But I think, that ordinance is also going to be lapsed. What does the Government think in this regard? The Government should bring forward a comprehensive Bill providing for all these things to bring about improvement in the election system.