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Electoral Reforms in India, Challenges, Reforms & Issues

India, with its vast population and strong democratic foundation, holds elections of immense significance. However, over time, several challenges have emerged, threatening the fairness and integrity of the electoral process. In response to these challenges, electoral reforms have been introduced to uphold the sanctity of the voting right and combat corruption. This article aims to delve into the major issues plaguing Indian electoral politics, followed by an exploration of the significant electoral reforms enacted to address these issues.

Electoral Reforms in India

In India, the term “electoral reforms in India” refers to the evolution and modification of the electoral system. The Electoral Reforms seek to promote clean politics, free and fair elections, and ideal legislators. It contributes to making Indian democracy a true democracy in both letter and spirit. The Indian Constitution’s Articles 324 to 329 cover elections and the electoral process. Elections in India are now significantly safer for candidates and voters thanks to election reforms. Additionally, it has regulated the electoral process to eradicate election-related fraud.

Electoral Reforms in India Background

Electoral reforms in India have been an ongoing process aimed at improving the electoral system’s fairness, transparency, and effectiveness. The need for such reforms arises from various challenges and issues faced by the electoral process, including corruption, malpractice, and inequality. Understanding the background of electoral reforms in India requires examining historical developments and the evolution of the electoral system.

Stage Description
Pre-Independence Era Limited and undemocratic electoral system under British colonial rule.
Constitutional Framework Establishment of electoral framework in the Constitution of India (1950).
Early Electoral Practices Initial elections supervised by the Election Commission of India (ECI).
Emergence of Electoral Issues Challenges such as corruption, criminalization of politics, and voter intimidation begin to surface.
Initiatives for Reform Establishment of expert committees, legislative amendments, and administrative measures.
Landmark Reforms Introduction of significant reforms addressing campaign finance, electoral administration, and voter registration.
Role of the Election Commission ECI’s pivotal role in overseeing elections, enforcing laws, and promoting voter education.
Legal Framework Amendments to electoral laws aimed at strengthening enforcement and enhancing credibility.
Public Discourse and Civil Society Engagement Active involvement of civil society, media, and activists in advocating for reforms and raising awareness.

Electoral Reforms in India Major Challenges

Money Power: Campaigning for elections is an expensive process in any democracy, but it is particularly so in India. Money power has a detrimental effect on our electoral system, seriously impairing how regularly scheduled elections operate. It causes widespread corruption and plays a significant role in the black money industry.

Muscle Power: The results of physical power include silent and merciless booth capturing, most types of rigging, victimisation following an election, and pre- and post-election intimidation.

Politics being criminalised: The criminalization of politics and the criminalization of criminals, both of which are now openly practised, are two sides of the same coin and are principally to blame for the show of savagery at elections. Through the use of violence, criminals are able to win elections for their supporters.

Misuse of Government Machinery: It is a prevalent belief that the government in power at the time of an election will utilise improper means to promote the electoral success of members of its own party. Misuse of government resources can take many different forms, such as spending ministerial discretionary funds on personal expenses, using government vehicles for canvassing, and publishing advertisements at the expense of the government and the public exchequer to highlight their achievements.

Casteism: In some instances, specific caste groups have shown fervent support for specific political parties. As a result, political parties make concessions to appeal to various castes, and castes also attempt to pressure parties into providing tickets for the elections of their members. Caste voting is very common in the nation, which is a significant blemish on democracy and equality. Additionally, this causes rifts throughout the nation.

Communalism: The political ethos of pluralism, parliamentarianism, secularism, and federalism in India is seriously threatened by communal polarisation. Find out more about communalism in the article that is linked.

Absence of Moral Principles in Politics: Politics in India has turned into a business as a result of political corruption. People get involved in politics in order to increase their wealth and influence. There aren’t many politicians who want to improve the lot of their constituents. The Gandhian principles of sacrifice and service are absent from India’s political landscape.

Electoral Reforms in India Before 2010

  • Lowering of the Voting Age: The Lok Sabha and assembly elections’ voting age was lowered from 21 to 18 years old by the 61st Constitutional Amendment Act of 1988.
  • Deputation to Election Commission: In 1988, a rule was established that stated that officials and personnel working on the creation, revision, and correction of electoral rolls for elections would be deemed to be on deputation to the Election Commission for the duration of their employment.
  • Increase in Proposers: In 1988, there was a rise in the number of candidates running for election to the Rajya Sabha and Legislative Councils.
  • Electronic Voting Machines (EVM): A 1989 law made it possible to employ EVMs in elections. In the 1999 general elections (statewide) for the Goa Assembly, the electronic voting machines (EVMs) were utilised for the first time.
  • Booth Capturing: In 1989, a provision was introduced for the postponement of elections or their countermanding in the event of booth capturing.
  • Elector’s Photo Identity Card (EPIC): The Election Commission is undoubtedly accelerating the electoral process by using electors’ photo identity cards. The Election Commission decided to provide photo identification cards to voters nationwide in 1993 to prevent fraudulent voting and voter impersonation during elections.
  • Liquor sales are prohibited: During the 48 hours leading up to the hour set for the poll’s conclusion, no liquor or other intoxicants may be sold, given or distributed in any store, restaurant or other location, whether private or public.
  • A conviction for violating the National Honours Act of 1971 disqualifies a person from running for office in the Parliament or state legislatures for a period of six years.

Electoral Reforms in India After 2010

  • The Commission has set a limit on the amount of money that can be spent in elections. It ranges from Rs. 50 to 70 lakh for the Lok Sabha elections (based on the state from which they are running), and from Rs. 20 to 28 lakh for an assembly election.
  • Limitations on exit polls: Prior to the 2019 Lok Sabha elections, the EC released a statement stating that exit poll findings could only be broadcast after the conclusion of the election’s final phase. To prevent potential voters from being misled or prejudiced in any way, this was done.
  • Voting by postal ballot: Across 2013, the EC voted to broaden the scope of voting by postal ballot across the nation. Prior to this, only Indian diplomats serving overseas and a small number of defence personnel could cast postal ballots. Service voters, special voters, wives of service voters and special voters, those subject to preventive detention, people on election duty, and Notified voters are the six groups of voters who can now use the postal ballot..
  • Raising Awareness: To commemorate the foundation day of the EC, the government chose to honour January 25 as “National Voters Day.” To be eligible for an income tax break, political parties must report to the EC any contributions that exceed Rs 20,000. Candidates must disclose their criminal histories, financial situation, and other information. Additionally, it is now illegal to give false information in an affidavit and is punishable by up to six months in prison, a fine, or both.
  • The creation of NOTA: None of the above (NOTA) is a ballot choice that enables voters to express their dislike of every candidate in a voting process. Following the 2013 Supreme Court ruling in the case of People’s Union for Civil Liberties v. Union of India, it was implemented in India. However, India’s NOTA does not grant the “right to reject.” Regardless of the number of NOTA ballots cast, the candidate with the most votes wins the election..
  • Voter verifiable paper audit trail (VVPAT) introduction: VVPAT is a technique for providing feedback to voters using electronic voting machines. A VVPAT is meant to be an impartial system of verification for voting machines that enables voters to check that their vote was cast accurately and to audit the results that have been electronically stored. It includes the candidate’s name for whom the vote was made as well as the party or candidate’s symbol..
  • Electoral bonds, a transparent method of financing elections In January 2018, the government enacted the Electoral Bond Scheme in an effort to purge the current political sponsorship culture. An electoral bond is intended to be a bearer document, much like a promissory note; in essence, it will resemble a bank note that is interest-free and payable to the bearer immediately. Any Indian citizen or organisation with an Indian incorporation may purchase it.

Electoral Reforms in India and Measures Taken

An applicant may follow the development of his or her application using the Political Parties Registration Tracking Management System (PPRTMS).

Systematic Voters’ Education and Electoral Participation Programme (SVEEP): To inform voters, ECI organises voter awareness initiatives.

Electoral Reforms in India and Measures Taken by Judiciary

  • According to the Union of India v. Association of Democratic Reforms case from 2002, candidates for office must declare all of their assets, debts, criminal convictions, etc. when submitting their nomination papers.
  • According to the 2005 Ramesh Dalal v. Union of India case, a legislator is unable to run for office if, on the day nomination papers are filed, he or she is found guilty in court.
  • In the 2013 case of Lily Thomas v. Union of India, the automatic and immediate nature of the disqualification for membership in the House under Articles 101(3) and 190(3) is in effect.
  • Voters have the “Right to Negative Vote” throughout the election process, and the Election Commission of India was instructed to add the option of “NOTA” on the vote paper in the People’s Union of Civil Liberties v. Union of India 2013 case.

Electoral Reforms in India UPSC

It is widely acknowledged that the country’s voting system has several flaws that need to be fixed over the years. But it should be done gradually and continuously, after much discussion and deliberation. Successive governments have recognised the significance of the concerns related to electoral changes at the Centre. Election reform recommendations from the Election Commission and various committees have occasionally been considered or put into practice. The administration acknowledged that electoral changes are an ongoing process and that all parties involved, including the government, the Election Commission of India, the Law Commission, etc., should work to adopt any suggestions for electoral reforms on which consensus can occasionally be reached.

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Electoral Reforms in India FAQs

What are the three electoral reforms?

• Vote-counting procedures.
• Rules about political parties
• Typically changes to election laws.

Who is the father of electoral reforms?

Tirunellai Narayana Iyer Seshan was born on 15 December 1932 in Thirunellai Village in Palghat, Kerala. He was youngest of six siblings and his father was a lawyer in a district court.

What are 2004 electoral reforms?

The Election Commission proposed in its 2004 report that Section 8 of the Representation of the People Act, 1951 should be amended to disqualify candidates accused of an offence punishable by imprisonment of 5 years or more even when trial is pending, given that the Court has framed charges against the person.

What electoral system is followed in India?

Elections to the Lok Sabha (and also to Vidhan Sabhas) are carried out using a first-past-the-post electoral system.

What were the types of reforms?

Reforms on many issues — temperance, abolition, prison reform, women's rights, missionary work in the West — fomented groups dedicated to social improvements. Often these efforts had their roots in Protestant churches.

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