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Report No. 255

D. The Present Report

1.11. After submitting the 244th Report, the Commission circulated another questionnaire to all the registered national and State political parties requesting their views on issues such as possible amendments to the Tenth Schedule of the Constitution to do away with the concept of 'merger' and 'split'; expediting the disposal of election petitions; giving statutory status to the Model Code of Conduct;
incorporating the right to recall in the Representation of People Act, 1951 (hereinafter "RPA"); the right to reject principle and the None of the Above Option (hereinafter "NOTA"); the status of independent candidates; whether candidates should be allowed to contest elections from more than one constituency; making 'paid news' an electoral offence/corrupt practice; and regulating opinion polls during the election period.

The Present Report, forming the second part of the Commission's work, seeks to examine these issues; the issues raised in the earlier consultation paper; and other related issues; to suggest amendments to the Constitution, the RPA, 1951 and other laws to strengthen our electoral system further.

1.12. While the Commission was preparing the second part of its Report dealing with the aforementioned issues, the Supreme Court, in its latest order dated 16th January 2015, in a PIL in Yogesh Gupta v. ECI, WP (Civil) No. 422/2014 order of the Supreme Court on 08.09.2014 recorded the government's submission that it would seek the views of the Law Commission, and the submission of an interim report, on the issue of totaliser for counting votes. Hence, the Commission has given its recommendations on the same.

1.13. The Commission hoped to receive constructive suggestions from the political parties to assist it in the submission of the second part of its Report, dealing with the issues in the questionnaire. However, once again, the Commission received very few responses from the various political parties, with only two national parties (being the Indian National Congress and the Communist Party of India (Marxist)) and three registered state parties (being the Shiv Sena, the Zoram Nationalist Party, the People's Party of Arunachal) sending in their views.

This was very discouraging given that political parties are one of the most important stakeholders in the electoral process.

1.14. In order to undertake a study for suggesting amendments to the various laws and the Constitution, the Commission formed a sub-committee comprising of the Chairman, Justice S.N. Kapoor, Professor (Dr.) Mool Chand Sharma, Mr. Arghya Sengupta, Ms. Chinmayee Arun, Ms. Srijoni Sen, Ms. Ujwala Uppaluri, Ms. Vrinda Bhandari, and Ms. Ritwika Sharma.

The Commission then consulted with three former CEC's, namely Mr. T.S. Krishnamurthy, Mr. N. Gopalaswamy and Mr. S.Y. Qureshi, and Mr. S.K. Mendiratta, Legal Advisor to the ECI. In its deliberations, Mr. Gautam Bhatia, Mr. Sameer Rohatagi and Mr. Pranay Lekhi also assisted the Commission.

1.15. The Commission would also like to place on record its special appreciation for Ms. Srijoni Sen, Ms. Vrinda Bhandari, and Ms. Ritwika Sharma, Consultants to the Commission, whose inputs were incisive, vital and require special mention. They played a key role in drafting the Report.

1.16. Thereafter, upon extensive deliberations, discussions and indepth study, the Commission has given shape to the present Report.

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