Elections are the life and blood of modern democracies. The health and vitality of parliamentary democracy are sustained by ensuring free, fair and peaceful elections where the verdict of the people finds full expression. Free and fair elections are important in ensuring the government authority derives power from the will of the people. It is expected that electoral reforms will contribute to better participation of the citizens in electoral practices, reduce corruption and strengthen democracy in India. As a foundation for the electoral reforms, recently, the Prime Minister’s Office had held a meeting with representatives of the Election Commission and the Law Ministry to discuss the possibility of having a common electoral roll for elections to the Panchayat, municipality, state assembly and the Lok Sabha.
Electing a government to govern the nation/states for the next five years by casting vote in a polling booth is an onerous responsibility on the shoulders of every voter in a democratic country. Unfortunately, even after seven decades of independence and numerous elections held in the country so far, despite extensive appeals by the Election Commission, government and other celebrities, large number of voters still perceive, voting is an optional luxury enjoying low priority. According to the 255th Law Commission Report, “Electoral right” of the voter includes the right to “vote or refrain from voting at an election.” The Representation of People Act, 1951 – the law that governs elections also talks of “right to vote rather than a duty to vote”. Last year, in the monsoon session of parliament, Lok Sabha members expressed diverse views on a private member’s bill seeking compulsory voting.
Of the many issues that plague the Indian democratic elections, one of them is the non-fulfilment of the election promises. Unfortunately, Indian voters have cast their votes based on these promises and they are left with no recourse. The world is watching the largest democracy, and maybe it is time to empower our electoral with “Right to Recall”. Recently, Haryana Deputy Chief Minister muted the scope of introducing a bill in the state assembly, empowering the people to recall the elected representatives of Panchayat bodies if they lose their confidence.
Some experts estimate the coronavirus pandemic to last for two years. Deferring elections for such a long duration could go against the spirit of democracy and federalism – the basic components of the Indian Constitution. Thus, the Election Commission of India (ECI) made India one among the few countries to hold elections amid the pandemic. Since June, it had successfully held Rajya Sabha and legislative council elections in various states under strict COVID-related guidelines. Bihar will be the ultimate test for the EC’s ability to safeguard democracy and public health, as it is the first state to be holding Assembly elections amid pandemic in October-November. The Supreme Court backs the EC’s stand on election process by rejected the plea for the cancellation of Bihar polls, stating that COVID-19 cannot be a “valid reason” for stopping elections.
In April, the Andhra Pradesh government’s decision to reduce the tenure of the State Election Commissioner was criticised as a …
The Centre has constituted a Delimitation Commission to redraw Lok Sabha and assembly constituencies of the Union Territory of Jammu and Kashmir and the North-Eastern states of Assam, Arunachal Pradesh, Manipur, and Nagaland. The exercise of delimitation across the nation was periodically done to ensure equal representation of states based on population census. This, however, temporarily ceased due to numerous issues like an overemphasis on population numbers. This short-term freeze of delimitation would be lifted in 2026. Therefore, addressing these issues is vital so that the nationwide delimitation process is not postponed yet again, threatening India’s democratic principles.
The model code of conduct has been violated by many candidates and parties during campaigning for the Lok Sabha elections. It highlights the need to re-examine the enforceability of MCC and the authority of the election commission to take actions against such candidates and parties.
Indian elections cost huge sums of money. This money hardly comes from contributions by sympathizers of the political party but from big corporate houses. Such contributions have largely come from undeclared income/black money and this increases corruption in the electoral process. It highlights the need for implementing effective reforms in electoral finance.In the previous article, we have discussed the Electoral Bonds Scheme for bringing transparency in electoral finance. In this article, we are going to discuss another such reform called State funding of elections as a measure to bring transparency and eliminate corruption in the electoral process.