Bangalore: A comprehensive amendment to electoral reforms will be brought about in the next three to four months, Union Law Minister M Veerappa Moily said on Sunday.
"A comprehensive amendment is the need of the hour and will be brought about in the next three to four months after a national consultation on the issue," he said at the Sixth Regional Consultation on Electoral Reforms here.
He said the recommendation made by the National Commission to Review the Working of the Constitution, 2001, to enhance existing ceiling on election expenses for the various legislative bodies to Rs 40 lakh for a Lok Sabha seat and Rs 16 lakh for an assembly seat from Rs 25 lakh and Rs 10 lakh respectively at present, will be cleared within a week.
"If we can find one instrument to wipe out money power, presence of mafia, power exercised by the criminals, rest will be alright. We need to eliminate criminals whose ultimate aim is to grab national power through financing political parties," he said.
"For this, we need to address the basics of democracy. The governance of democracy needs to be sanitised. We need to work on a system which is free and fair", Moily said. He emphasised the need to reflect the voice of the people
in the proposals put forward for electoral reforms and also for "sanitising the criminal justice system" by ensuring that all corruption cases both at the state and the central level are tried within six months.
Social auditing may also have to be included in the electoral reforms, Moily said. Curbing criminalisation of politics, which has been suggested by previous committees through enforcement of disclosure of criminal antecedents of candidates and eligibility restriction for candidates with criminal cases pending against them, has been opposed by every political
party, Chief Election Commissioner S Y Quraishi said.
This opposition is based mainly on two premises, first that generally most of the criminal cases lodged are "false" and secondly, according to law of the land everybody is innocent until proven guilty, "which is nothing but a
mockery of the electoral system", he said.
Quraishi said at present there are four lakh prisoners in the country out of which 67 per cent are under trials. There is a need to find a legal answer through a fast track method to ensure speedy completion of trials.
The EC has suggested that a criminal case filed prior to six months before an election would lead to disqualification of candidate. In addition, the Commission proposed that candidates found guilty by a Commission of Enquiry should stand disqualified.