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Report No. 170

Chapter III

Background of the subject undertaken and Commission's Working Paper

1.3.1. It appears that in 1995, the Government of India in the Ministry of Law, Justice and Company Affairs had addressed a letter dated 2.11.1995 requesting the then Law Commission to undertake a comprehensive study of the measures required to expedite the hearing of the election petitions. The present Law Commission (15th Law Commission) which was constituted towards the end of November 1997 came to know of the said letter much later i.e. on receipt of a letter from the Minister for Law, Justice and Company Affairs dated 3rd August 1998 asking for a report on the above subject at an early date.

As a matter of fact, some time before the receipt of the said letter, the present Law Commission had, suo motu, embarked upon a thorough review of the Representation of the People Act, 1951 including provisions relating to hearing of election petitions. The study was undertaken with a view to making the electoral process more fair, transparent and equitable. The effort was also to reduce, if not curtail, the several distortions and evils that had crept into the India electoral system, to identify the areas where the legal provisions required strengthening and improvement and to suggest the requisite measures in that behalf.

Accordingly, the Law Commission prepared a working paper (Annexure-B) to which were enclosed three draft Bills, one for amending the Constitution of India, the other for amending the Representation of People Act, 1951 and the third to amend the Indian Penal Code. While preparing the working paper and the accompanying Bills, the Law Commission took into consideration the Bill which was prepared in 1990 by the late Shri Dinesh Goswami, the then Minister for Law, Justice and Company Affairs, based on a consensus arrived at between all the political parties.

Indeed, we took the said Bill as the starting point and suggested various other measures which in our opinion were called for to achieve the aforementioned objectives. We also took into account a brochure published by the Election Commission of India containing various suggestions for amending the Representation of the People Act, 1951 Notice was also taken of several decisions of the Supreme Court on various provisions of the Representation of the People Act, 1951 hereinafter referred to as the R.P.Act. The salient features of the working paper were the following:

Reform of The Electoral Laws Back

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