Chief Election Commissioner Sushil Chandra has written to Union Law Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad requesting to expedite action on a slew of electoral reforms pending with the government, PTI reported on Tuesday.
The proposed reforms, suggested in a letter in May, include linking of voter information with the Aadhaar system. It also called for an extension of jail term for poll candidates found guilty of furnishing incorrect information.
The Election Commission also proposed that “paid news” should be made an electoral offence under the Representation of the People Act, according to PTI.
Chandra told the news agency that he hopes that the ministry will take up the poll panel’s proposals soon.
The Election Commission has also proposed to extend the jail term for the offence of providing false information in poll affidavits, to two years from the current six months, Chandra said. He added that the existing punishment does not lead to disqualification of candidates.
A jail term of two years can effectively bar the individuals from contesting elections for a period of six years.
He added that the poll body has proposed a ban on political advertisements in newspapers during the “silence period” between the end of campaign and the day of polling.
A committee, tasked with proposing changes in electoral laws related to campaigning within 48 hours ahead of polling, had recommended a ban on advertisements in newspapers on the day of polling, PTI reported.
The move will require changes in the Representation of the People Act, as now only the electronic media is barred from showing campaign-related content 48 hours before voting begins.
As far as linking of the electoral roll with Aadhaar is concerned, in March this year, the Centre, in a reply to a question in the Lok Sabha, said that the matter was “under the consideration of the government”.
“Electoral roll database system does not enter into the Aadhaar ecosystem and the system is used only for the authentication purpose keeping a tight air-gap between the two system,” Prasad had said in his reply. “These measures effectively prevent theft interception and high jacking of the voter system.”
However, the government has not yet notified any further steps on the matter.
In 2015, the Election Commission had launched a pilot project called the National Electoral Roll Purification and Authentication Programme aimed to use Aadhaar linking to remove duplicate names from voter lists. However, the project was stopped a few months later when the Supreme Court, in response to a petition filed by KS Puttaswami, a retired judge of the Karnataka High Court, specified what Aadhaar could be used for. It listed four specific purposes and voter ID was not one of them.