Home Deliberation Common man and the need for Electoral Reforms

Common man and the need for Electoral Reforms

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Suhail is an enthusiastic NRI basically from a remote hamlet in UP. He is abroad for last few years, excelled in business and earned sufficient money there. Now he wanted to return and serve the homeland. Returning home was never an easy task. He came to know about the hassles when his father tried to establish a college in his village. Finding a way in a shady system and tackling the red-tapism was always a tough nut to crack. Leaving an easy and hassle free system in US and opting for a homecoming turned to be a nightmare. Yet the family decided to go ahead with their plans to relocate their activities and to serve their very own locals.

Until the emergence of Aam Aadmi Party as the anti corruption crusaders on the political scene, Suhail had turned bit disillusioned with the system. Like many fellow compatriots he found it an opportunity to grab and take the system head on. When he was offered a ticket to contest from Sambhal Lok Sabha Constituency, he was on the seventh sky, believing that the time to change has finally arrived.

Everything was going according to the plan. He had arranged a large team of volunteers, had gone door to door convincing people to join his struggle for change. Response was overwhelming and it seemed that victory was just attainable. But the system hadn’t changed yet. His nomination papers were cancelled by the returning officer. Reason given is that his name on electoral roll was not mentioned on the given serial number. While the handbook of Election commission of India for the returning officers under clause 9.1 on page 65 clearly mentions says

“Do not reject any nomination paper on the ground of any defect which is not of a substantial character [Section 36(4)]. Any mistake or error of a technical or clerical nature should, therefore, be ignored by you”.

and also under clause 9.2 it is mentioned that

“a nomination paper should not be rejected for the reason only that none of the persons referred to in section 36(1) was present at the time of scrutiny of nomination; it should be accepted or rejected on merits, taking all the available material into account”.

Further clause 9.3 (c) clearly says that the description of an electoral roll number should not be the ground of cancellation of nomination paper. As such unjustifiable and improper order of rejection on technical grounds had led to a large number of election petitions and the eventual setting aside of several elections with consequent avoidable waste of time, money and labor for all concerned. Election commission says that similar instances of improper rejections should not recur and it is up to the returning officer to interpret the provisions of the law intelligently.

But the returning officer failed to interpret the law intelligently rather he worked under the strong influence of sitting M.P who belongs to the ruling party in the state and Suhail is not the first to face such circumstances. Such cases have occurred on regular basis and courts have to face such questions because of the bureaucratic arrogance.

It was in Karnail Singh v. Election Tribunal Hissar, 10 Ele LR 189 (SC) the full facts of which are reported in Ajayab Singh v. Karnail Singh, 6 Ele LR 368 (Ele Tri. Hissar) the constituency for which the name of one Sher Singh was proposed was composed of two towns Sirsa and Dabwali which were sub-divided into wards. The electoral roll was not divided into parts. In the nomination paper, the name of the constituency, the number of the ward, and the serial number at which the name of the candidate was enrolled, were specified, but the name of the town was not given, At the time of the scrutiny, the candidate himself pointed out to the returning officer the entry of his name in the, electoral roll. The returning officer, nevertheless, rejected the nomination paper. On an election petition, it was held by the Tribunal that the nomination paper of Sher Singh was wrongly rejected.

In Rangilal v. Dahu Sao, AIR 1962 SC 1248 the full facts of which are given in the High Court judgment in Dahu Sao v. Ranglal Chaudhary, AIR 1960 Pat 371 : 22 Ele LR 299 neither the name of the constituency in the electoral roll of which the names of the proposers and candidate were to be found, nor the number of its part, was mentioned. But in column No. 2, besides the serial number, the house number of the proposer was shown and the words “Naya Bazar, Dhanbad” were mentioned after the house number, In Column No. 5, however, only the serial number and the house number of the candidate were given but the location of the house was not shown as was done in the case of the proposer. The full postal address of the candidate was given in column No. 4 as “Naya Bazar, Dhanbad”.

Court found that the returning officer, apparently, had no difficulty in locating their names in the electoral roll of the Dhanbad constituency. In these circumstances, their Lordships held that the above defect in the nomination paper was not of a substantial character.

And the saga goes on. India needs election reforms at the first instance. There are laws but the interpretation has been left to bureaucracy which constantly works hand in glove with the ruling elite. This nexus leaves very less scope for the newcomers to enter the system. Until and unless system is made transparent and laws are made people friendly, road will remain bumpy, leaving no scope for enthusiasts like Suhail to become of component of positive change.

Featured image source: http://theindiangovernment.com/achievements/transparency.html#.U19CJfmSxvB

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