Chief election commissioner Sushil Chandra on Tuesday wrote to Union law minister Ravi Shankar Prasad urging him to take action on the proposed electoral reforms that are currently pending with the Centre.
“I have written to the law minister to expedite these proposals and hopefully they will be taken up early by the ministry,” Chandra told PTI.
These reforms include a suggestion of increasing the jail term of those furnishing incorrect details in their poll affidavit from six months to two years. A jail term of two years can effectively bar the individuals from contesting elections for a period of six years.
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The Election Commission proposed a ban on political advertisements on newspapers during the ‘silence period’ — between the end of electoral campaigning and the day of elections. The poll body also proposed to make “paid news” an electoral offence.
All of these proposals require an amendment to the Representation of the People Act, 1951.
The commission also suggested an extension of the Section 126 of the Representation of the People Act, 1951, to bring print media under its purview and ban any political advertisement on the day of polling. Currently, only electronic media is barred from displaying political advertisements during the 48 hours before polls conclude.
The poll body sought to link Aadhaar numbers with electoral rolls. The proposal, which was initially suggested in August 2019, wants to empower electoral officers enough to seek Aadhaar details of existing voters as well as new voters. Chandra told Hindustan Times that this is to eliminate duplication and to make it easier for people to transfer their votes when they move to a different constituency. In 2015, the Supreme Court had halted a previous attempt by the election commission to link Aadhar number with electoral data.
Prasad had said to the Lok Sabha in a written reply recently that the proposed amendments are under consideration.