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Report No. 170

Reform of The Electoral Laws

Part I

Background of Electoral Reforms

Chapter 1

Introduction

1.1.1. The preamble to be Constitution of India declares that the people of India have resolved to constitute India into a sovereign democratic republic with the four-fold objective, namely, to secure to all its citizens, justice social, economic and political; liberty of thought, expression, belief, faith and worship; equality of status and of opportunity and to promote among them all fraternity, assuring the dignity of the individual. As would be evident from the provisions in Part V and Part VI of the Constitution, we have established for ourselves a parliamentary form of government patterned on the British model.

In a parliamentary democracy, there is no formal separation between the Parliament and the political executive (Council of Ministers). The political executive is a part and parcel of the Parliament and is drawn from it. The party or the group of parties which has a majority in the lower House or which enjoys the confidence of the lower House, is invited by the President to form the government. In other words, in a parliamentary democracy, the political executive is not elected as such by the people.

Even the President, the titular Head of the State is not elected by the people directly but by the Members of the Parliament and the State Legislatures. It is for this reason that the Supreme Court has held repeatedly even before the enactment of the Constitution (Forty-Second) Amendment Act, 1976, in Ram Jawaya Kapur v. State of Punjab (AIR 1955 SC 549) and in Samsher Singh v. State of Punjab (AIR 1974 SC 2192) that the position of the President under our Constitution is akin to the British Monarch. In other words, he is a constitutional head of the State. The real governing power vests in the political executive. Similar is the position in the States.

The system obtaining in this country is wholly different from the one obtaining in the United States of America where the executive, namely, the President is elected directly by the people just as the Legislature (Congress) is elected by the people directly in a separate election. In such a system of government, the governing power is distributed between the President and the Congress and the political executive is not drawn from the Legislature whereas in a parliamentary form of government like ours, the political executive (Council of Ministers) is drawn from Parliament and is answerable to the Parliament for exercise of its powers.

1.1.2. Whether in a parliamentary form of government or a Presidential form, indeed in every democracy, the process of election should be free, fair and equitable. Fortunately, our Constitution and the Representation of the People Act, 1950 and Representation of the People Act, 1951 to seek to provide for a free and fair election but problems have been arising in this regard on account of division in our polity on the basis of religion, caste, language, region and race. [Free and fair elections are the very foundation of democratic institutions (P.R. Belagali v. B.D. Jatti, AIR 1971 SC 1348; , Indira Nehru Gandhi v. Raj Narain, AIR 1975 SC 2299; and Mohinder Singh Gill v. The Chief Election Commissioner, AIR 1978 SC 851)].

However there has been a steady deterioration in the standards, practices and pronouncements of the political class, which fights the elections. Money-power, muscle-power, corrupt practices and unfair means are being freely employed to win the elections. Over the years, several measures have been taken by Parliament to amend the laws relating to elections with a view to check the aforementioned forces. This report, which has been prepared after extensive consultations, is a step in the said process. It is hoped that Parliament will take prompt action to give them legislative imprimatur.



Reform of The Electoral Laws Back




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