Millennium Post

Disqualify poll candidates who disclose false info: EC

New Delhi: The Election Commission (EC) will make a fresh push for electoral reforms with the Government, including making filing of false declaration a ground for disqualification and putting a cap on expenditure by candidates in legislative council polls in the coming days. According to highly placed sources in the poll panel, the EC brass, at the planned meeting with Legislative Secretary G Narayana Raju after the end of the Winter session of Parliament, will also ask the Government to make bribery during poll period a cognisable offence.

The winter session of Parliament will end on January 8. While the Law Ministry is the administrative ministry for the EC, the Legislative Department is the nodal unit for issues related to the poll panel. The sources said that the Commission would also ask the ministry to take a call on its demand to extend constitutional protection to the two election commissioners on the lines of the Chief Election Commissioner.

The President appoints the Chief Election Commissioner (CEC) and Election Commissioners after the Law Ministry initiates the file for their appointment. A CEC can be removed from office only through impeachment by Parliament. The President can remove the ECs based on the recommendation of the CEC.

In its report on electoral reforms submitted in March, 2015, the Law Commission had proposed extending constitutional protection to the two ECs. The EC had been pushing to extend constitutional protection to the election commissioners. Another proposal that the EC would press for is making electoral law gender neutral for armed forces personnel. As of now, an army man's wife is entitled to be enrolled as a service voter, but a woman army officer's husband is not, according to the provisions in the electoral law. But a bill pending before the Rajya Sabha proposes to replace the term 'wife' with 'spouse', thus making the provision gender neutral.

Members of the armed forces, central armed police forces, personnel of state police forces posted outside their state and employees of the Centre posted outside India are eligible to be enrolled as service voters.

"Much depends on Parliament. The bill has been passed by the Lok Sabha... It is a major electoral reform for service voters ahead of the Lok Sabha polls... We want government to get it passed at the earliest," an EC official said.

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